Monday, August 17, 2009

What to Do, What to DO?

A number of third-party enthusiasts are gleefully pointing out all the ways that Obama has failed to live up to people's expectations of him. For an example, note the comments after Dave Lindorff's recent piece exhorting people on the left to get active for Single-Payer at the Town Halls. I don't think that this "I told you so" glee directed at Obama voters is any better than the "I told you so" finger-shaking I got from Dems following the election of George Bush in 2000 (I had voted for Nader.) The answer is still to put pressure on whoever is in power through grass-roots action for single payer all the while knowing that in the end, we will probably not get it.

I agree with Lindorff in general about the need for the left to out-organize the right at the health-care reform town-halls. In fact,I have read that single-payer advocates have been visible at every town-hall meeting so far, but the media is rarely reporting the story (note the previous blog entry). However I'm a bit puzzled by his recent comment on counterpunch that "obstruction" is the only viable option at the town-hall meetings. He goes on to say,
Instead of opposing the right-wing hecklers at these events, progressives should be making common cause with them. Instead of calling them fascists, we should be working to turn them, by showing them that the enemy is not the left; it is the corporations that own both Democrats and Republicans alike.
The only proper approach to the wretched health care legislation currently working its way through Congress at this point is to kill it and start over. At these "town meeting" staged events, Obama and the Democrats need to hear, in no uncertain terms, that we don't want no stinkin' ObamaCare. We want Medicare for all.

Given that one of the biggest fears of this group is that "Obamacare" is actually a "Trojan Horse" for single-payer (which is how Dems have tried to sell the plan to the left) this strategy seems unrealistic to me. Just as the media won't report the single-payer advocates already questioning the corporate Dem plan, the wisdom on the street (and on the Hill) if Obama's plan is defeated (or further watered down) is that America is not ready for a public-option, let alone single-payer.

My sense, based on what I've seen and read about right-wing protesters (beyond the anti-choicers and other religious fear mongerers)
is that
- They don't want "illegal aliens" to be insured and they believe that these illegal aliens will be covered by "Obamacare".

-They fear that if medicare is extended "for all" that it will go bankrupt or the U.S. as a whole will go bankrupt - and their coverage will be reduced - this is why seniors are prominent protesters at the Town Halls. This is not then, an irrational "keep your government hands off my medicare," it is a rational (but misinformed) argument: "I can't afford to share my medicare" (probably with them illegal aliens). Glenn Beck has recently been stoking these fears by suggesting that the health care plan, added to the bank bailout will send the US into an inflationary spin that will lead the government to the solutions offered by Nazi Germany, including euthanasia. One of pieces of meat he tossed out to the far-right base was the notion that the Federal Reserve will just "print money" in order to pay for the health care plan.
and that brings me to the third group:

- They are tea-partying libertarians who think that EVERYTHING is done better in the private sector (note: Ron Paul) and want to eliminate public schools, etc. The powers behind this movement are neo-cons, but the frothing at the mouth base are angry white men who think that the government is helping less deserving others instead of them.
If you want to understand these white anti-government types read Leonard Zeskind's book about them, or follow his articles on the tea-party movement. Don't believe me? - note the guy in confederate t-shirt pictured here, holding the sign reading "Abolish Federal Government."

It's hard to imagine how single-payer advocates are going to make common cause with this crowd.


Unknown said...

Just in ...Zeskind has a good analysis of the anti-health care rallies here:

Iris said...

Hi from New Hampshire where there's a pro health care rally about to be held somewhere near Portsmouth. And, thanks for the analysis of the hostile crowd at the town hall meetings. I agree with your point that single payer advocates can't make common cause with these folks. One of the organizers here who goes back to the early feminist movement told us that many of the NH protesters were pure 2nd amendment fanatics and they see "socialized" medicine as taking away their gun rights!
How do you get through to them? love mom

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