Between the $1.4 million per day being spent to lobby and advertise against healthcare reform, we now have a largely self-defeating crowd of middle-aged, middle class American wingnuts who are disrupting town hall meetings and manufacturing an artificial perception that normal Americans of all stripes are against healthcare reform -- not just the public option -- but healthcare reform in general. In other words, if enough of these town hall meetings are seized by loud noises, I worry that it might be enough to swing some moderate lawmakers away from any sort of decent legislation.
Elsewhere, there's a conventional wisdom being formed right now. A vibe is beginning to take shape: healthcare reform is losing steam, they say. You hear it on cable news, you hear it on the radio and it's floating around in certain circles online. These protests only serve to enhance and feed that vibe -- however fake it all might be.
The tea party people know this and that's why they're doing it. Beyond these displays of rage, they don't have any clear position or facts with which to back it up. They've simply been told by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck that a "socialist foreigner" is going to take away their guns and force their grannies to commit suicide -- they've been manipulated once again to rally against their own best interest.
I think that's what's the most disturbing about this: that this movement is so loudly protesting something which, by in large, won't run up the debt, which won't cost them a penny in new taxes, which will reduce their health insurance premiums, which will protect them from losing their healthcare, and which will ultimately save them piles of money in the long run. If they do in fact reflect the socioeconomic status of the typical middle class conservative Republican, many of these people would profoundly benefit from healthcare reform and the public option -- as they also will benefit from the Obama tax cuts and recovery legislation. But they don't want it because a sobbing multi-millionaire on Fox News said so. Hence the "self-defeating" remark above.
And finally, I'd be lying if I told you that I wasn't personally angered and deeply offended by these protests -- far beyond my normal level of bemusement, outrage or disgust at the far-right. Because if they succeed with their loud noises and dittoheaded lies, and if healthcare reform fails as a consequence, I probably won't qualify for affordable health insurance for a very long time.
Meanwhile, the people who do have health insurance will pay 30 percent more for it next year, 30 more the year after, 30 percent more three years from now and so on. Even then, with grossly inflated premiums bringing them closer bakruptcy, there's no guarantee that when they get sick, their health insurance will cover their illness as promised. Consequently, healthcare reform and the public option are mandatory -- irrespective of ideology or any ridiculous loyalty to an impotent talk radio host.
Once again, we can only hope that cooler heads will prevail.