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.