They’re crawling out of the woodwork…

As reported by Think Progress, the lobbyist-run groups Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, which helped orchestrate the anti-stimulus, anti-Obama tea parties earlier this year, are now pursuing an aggressive strategy to create the perception of mass public opposition to health care and clean energy reform. A memo leaked from Bob MacGuffie, a volunteer with the FreedomWorks website Tea Party Patriots, details how members should be infiltrating town halls and harassing Democratic members of Congress:

  • Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”
  • Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”
  • Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”

What I found interesting in said memo is that it does say, “Don’t carry on and make a scene – just short intermittent shout outs.” As this video demonstrates, the “don’t carry on and make a scene” part of the memo was conveniently ignored by protesters at a recent town hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

This is astroturfing at it’s finest – professional lobbyists paid by corporate interests to drum up a fake grassroots movement to serve their own self interests. What’s more, it’s disappointing (but not shocking) to see conservatives can’t have an honest, civil debate about health care reform, because it’s an issue that certainly merits an honest discussion, and not the kinds of tactics being used by some conservatives who are opposed to meaningful health care reform.


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12 thoughts on “They’re crawling out of the woodwork…

    1. I’m not whiny Cindy, but thanks for your input!

      I’m glad to hear you’re among those not interested in a real debate, instead preferring shouting matches designed to stifle real discussion on the issue.

      1. Real Debate? There has been bordering on zero real debate on this issue in most places – most importantly in Congress. They wanted to steam-roller it through before it was even possible to actually read. Add that a number of the “listening sessions” have had a stacked deck of supporters bussed in so those with criticisms are turned away, not to mention that some sessions have required questions to be submitted before-hand – have been screened out criticisms or difficult question, and you have to understand some of the frustration.

        I will grant, that being rude, crass and otherwise disruptive at these things is wrong and don’t condone such behavior. I will also grant that some of the people – most likely the most disruptive – are the type who don’t think for themselves and just spout out the talking points they hear on the radio.

        But I don’t think it’s at all accurate to say the politicians running these sessions actually want real debate. They want to go back to DC and say, I held X sessions in my district and overwhelmingly the people supported my position exactly.

        As an aside, I’m new here, just sort of stumbled across the site. I think you and I will disagree on most issues, but in the little bit I’ve read, you seem to have a real interest in fostering discussion and actuallly listen to opposing arguments. If this is a site where honest debate can take place, where people will consider opposing positions and ideas and respectfully disagree, I may be around for awhile.

        1. Locke, whether these Congresspeople wanted to have a real dialogue or not, they’re not even being given the opportunity. What’s more, I’ve seen footage of citizen supporters of health care reform being shouted down at town hall meetings.

          1. Yup. No disagreement – I’ll call a duck, a duck & I don’t condone boorish behavior even if I agree with the position. This stuff shouldn’t be tolerated from either side.

  1. I wonder what would happen if the Baptists went to a Catholic Church on Sunday and used these techniques.

    Ah, well, religions and political parties may have beliefs but religions at least don’t try to disrupt each other’s message on Sunday. Well, in the US anyway.

  2. What is this point of disrupting these meetings? If the meetings cannot go on, people with legitimate concerns cannot get their voices heard over the howling agitators. Thus any value they may have had to contribute through criticism is lost. Again, where is the value? This activity is self-defeating.

    1. Jason, the point of the disruption is intimidation. The folks doing the disrupting are hoping they’ll intimidate their Representatives into voting against meaningful health care reform.

  3. I don’t grant your premise. You’re presenting the same false dichotomy we’ve heard before and in fact, it sounds just like the Bush Administration’s “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” garbage.

    You can be against what the President and Democrats in Congress are trying to do and still want significant healthcare reform. Though it isn’t altogether unfair to accuse the Republicans in Congress of this since they had the WH and a majority and didn’t do anything with it, but to paint all who disagree with “Obamacare” with that brush is unfair and untrue.

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