Washington, D.C. insiders love to follow the minutiae. Who’s ahead in the latest tracking poll. Which congressional committee is marking up a bill. How many amendments there are.
But most Americans don’t care about this stuff. They don’t have time to be glued to C-Span all day. Many don’t even know who their congressman or senator is. They’re busy living life, raising families, building a career.
This is what makes the recent protests over Congress’ proposed health care “reform” bills so striking. In New York, Rep. Tim Bishop tells a crowd that “no one is talking about the government taking over health care.” And the crowd boos, because they know that’s not true.
Bishop says he won’t bother with any more public hearings. “I had felt they would be pointless,” he said. “There is no point in meeting with my constituents and [to] listen to them and have them listen to you if what is basically an unruly mob prevents you from having an intelligent conversation.” Good luck with that strategy.
The question is: is this a movement, or are the protests being organized by crazed insurance company-financed zealots and Rush Limbaugh listeners? Bishop clearly thinks he knows the answer. So do some liberal activists.
“The entire rightwing juggernaut -- from the vastly powerful insurance industry trade group AHIP to the rightwing message machines of Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, etc. to the entire Republican ‘leadership’ -- is now lined up, heavily financed and organized and ready to pull the plug on health care reform,” wrote commenter “dirndl” at Washingtonpost.com. That’s a near parody of liberal talking points. “We, the people, never even had a chance.”
Would that be the same “juggernaut” that elected President Obama with a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress?
Still, let’s take this argument at face value. Is it easy to scare up a crowd (or mob, as the newspapers would surely refer to it)? Consider, for a moment, the F-22 fighter jet.
“Parts and subsystems for the F-22 are produced by about 1,000 suppliers in 42 states,” Lockheed-Martin notes on its Web site. Smart move. That means virtually every senator and most representatives will have a reason to preserve the program. Yet Congress recently voted to shut down production of the plane.