This is an absolutely brilliant term for the outspoken and occasionally violent movement that’s begun to spring up in opposition to health care reform. It, of course, refers to ‘grassroots’ activists by making a conscious distinction between the organized tea parties, angry mobs at town hall meetings (astroturf organizing), and true grassroots movements.
Mainstream media has begun to pick up on the differences. I’ve seen both CNN and MSNBC make references to astroturf organizing and while I doubt FOX News would call it that, I have to admit to not knowing for sure, seeing as watching a minute of FOX News creates a growing desire in me to stick sharp, pointy objects in my eyes and ears.
As the stories begin to trickle out from the media, research is beginning to show those behind the growing angry astroturf movement: corporations, right-wing republicans and even FOX commentator Glenn Beck!
In a conversation that can be seen on The Nation website, Princeton professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell and Keith Olbermann rightly discuss the question of just whom these angry mobs are comprised. Certainly, some of them are truly scared, confused, and concerned about the changes being discussed and proposed for health care. Others, on the other hand, are simply mouth pieces for the far-right, corporate health and pharmaceutical interests.
Progressives, (real) grassroots supporters of health care reform, both within and outside the Democratic Party need to get organized and moving on this, not only to show a strong, sound, and reasoned counter-argument to the “death panel” type propaganda, but also to show Congress the far-right aren’t the only ones who can turn out numbers to rallies.
Democratic Representatives and Senators are scared to hold public meetings during the recess because they fear the rabid mobs that have been turning out. During a time when it is the most important for our Congresspeople to be out in the public answering questions and fighting misinformation, they’re too afraid to come out of their offices.
Here in Hawaii, not one member of our Congressional delegation will be holding town hall meetings relating to health care because of their fear of the mob.
What’s more, President Obama should be publicly chastising the right-wing Republicans in Congress, rather than responding to the mob by chastising the progressives in his own Party. Those on the left side of the Democratic Party might be less inclined to publicly attack the right in their own Party if the leader of their Party and President of the United States was more willing to publicly challenge the right side of the Republican Party.
All of this makes any frank and public conversation about a Single-Payer system of public health impossible, but it also makes discussion about any real, if not mediocre, reform difficult. If rabid mobs stifle frank conversations about such vital topics like health care reform, there may not be any hope for the successful passage of real and comprehensive reform.