Early yesterday evening, I wrote:
You know who could put a stop to the bad feelings arising in this country? President Obama, who is supposed to be the leadership. Just as Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton backed off when they realized America was not into having their Healthcare taken over by the government, Obama could say, “you know, I’m moving kind of fast here, maybe we’ll shelve this for a while and concentrate more on putting people back to work, which is urgent.”
Such a move would be an instant assist to the nation Obama is supposed to be passionate about protecting, preserving and above-all SERVING. It would also mean instant restoration of his fast-fading credibility. Think he’ll do it?
Apparently Long Island Irish Catholic minds think similarly. A few hours later, Peggy Noonan wrote this:
. . .frankly they ought to think about backing off. The president should call in his troops and his Congress and announce a rethinking. There are too many different bills, they’re all a thousand pages long, no one has time to read them, no one knows what’s going to be in the final one, the public is agitated, the nation’s in crisis, the timing is wrong, we’ll turn to it again—but not now. We’ll take a little longer, ponder every aspect, and make clear every complication.
You know what would happen if he did this? His numbers would go up. Even Congress’s would. Because they’d look responsive, deliberative and even wise. Discretion is the better part of valor.
She is a better writer, but I think we’re both saying something very sensible, here. The Democrats are (in the words of Jonah Goldberg) “coming apart like so much wet toilet paper.” Moreover, their naked disdain for average Americans and their misguided instincts to mock, menace and marginalize the passionate citizens who dare to disagree with them is creating a very bad atmosphere that seems increasingly unstable. Last night, in Tampa, a female Democrat official smacked a man who was arguing face-to-face with her husband. In Missouri, a healthcare opponent handing out yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” signs was physically attacked and other disruptions occured.
Noonan also wrote:
. . .the health-care protesters have to make sure they don’t get too hot, or get out of hand. They haven’t so far, they’ve been burly and full of debate, with plenty of booing. This is democracy’s great barbaric yawp. But every day the meetings seem just a little angrier, and people who are afraid—who have been made afraid, and left to be afraid—can get swept up. As this column is written, there comes word that John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO has announced he’ll be sending in union members to the meetings to counter health care’s critics.
Somehow that doesn’t sound like a peace initiative.
Indeed not. Again we were thinking along the same lines. When you have people who are agitated-but-peaceable, the introduction of union strongarms signals a ratcheting up, not a calm willingness to debate.
I shared similar thoughts on Twitter last night. It’s down again, so I can’t get the exchange, but Dicentra mistook my tweet cautioning protesters against screaming and drowning out (which is not debate) to mean that we should not be vocal.
Of course we should be vocal, but not violent, not shrill, and not so emotional as to allow ourselves to be goaded into behavior which the Dems and their press would love to edit and broadcast.
That has not happened yet, but clearly the introduction of union strongarms and the deliberate attempts to exclude protesters from townhall meetings are partly meant to provoke emotionalism and outrage. I realized then that -because these protests are so grassroots and disorganized- they have no common ideal by which they can protect themselves from being baited into bad behavior. Attempting to find such an ideal or tactic, we joked at first that the protesters need to -when they are not being listened to, and are being disrespected- break into a Rickroll, singing and dancing both to cut tension and to shock-and-awe their Reps.
Then someone suggested that the protesters, about 2 days before congress reconvenes, encircle the capital 10 deep and refuse to allow the reps back in “until they until they stop Teh Stoopid.”
Mockery is, of course, very effective, too.
What is needed, I think -particularly under a White House who (rather than thinking seriously about how to create jobs and shore up our crashing tax revenues) wants its minions to “punchback twice as hard”- is to take a few pages from the playbook of Dr. Martin Luther King. Classic civil disobedience has a strong commitment to non-violence and passive-resistance, and that tactic works, because it unmasks the opposition and exposes them for the crude tyrants they are. When Bull Connor (Democrat, btw) turned his hoses and dogs on the peaceful marchers in Birmingham, Alabama, it was the beginning of his end, and a turning point in the civil rights movement. The injustice of his act was more eloquent than a Shakespearean soliloquy.
So, I think protesters should consider attending these meetings and teaparties with the understanding that they WILL be provoked, but that they are committed to answering provocation only through non-violent means. No matter the provocation, no matter the injustice, the protesters should simply keep to their purpose and not respond-in-kind. It is as powerful as a Tai-Chi move; you turn the opponent’s energy back upon himself to defeat him, or (as Jesus said) you “heap hot coals upon their heads.” Either way, you win. But of course, bring your cameras. Expect no hint of fairness from the press.
There is a lot of breast-beating going on in my email and among the tweets, “how can we fight them? The press is corrupt and has gone all-in for Obama, so they will not report our side accurately (true) and the Democrat/Union machine is relentless.”
Yeah, all true, but consider this: even with that Obama-owned-unto-Pravda press, even with the talking heads shilling for them, even with the WH and both houses of congress solidly in Democrat hands, the public is still seeing through the smoke, mirrors and phony charges of swastikas-abounding. The Dems could pass this legislation tomorrow if they wanted to, but they dare not without coverage from the right. The president’s numbers are tumbling, the bloom is off the rose. This thing can be stopped, but not if we allow ourselves to be baited into emotional (and therefore dangerous) states, which just feed the beast.
We win by simply, calmly stating our case over and over and over, while allowing the other side to expose themselves unto nakedness.
Like I said, think tai-chi and hot coals. Think detachment. Detach yourself from your emotions at these meetings. I had to do this once, when confronting a family member with something very serious. If I had allowed sly manipulations, lies and outbursts to engage my emotions, I would not have been able to stick to the important truth I needed to tell; I would not have been able to be true to myself. In a calm, detached way -utterly refusing to be baited or emotionalized- I accomplished my goal.
So, yes, be vocal, be passionately engaged, but be detached, as well. You know the truth. You know it in your center, so just stick to it, and keep repeating it with confidence and calm.
Calmly point out to the reps that they regretted their “rush to war,” and ask them why they are now so eager to “rush” again, so blindly. Calmly suggest that “healthcare reform” be shelved until real progress is made on cutting spending, and on urgently needed job creation. Calmly ask if the congress plans to keep people unemployed so that they have no choice but to rely on the government. Calmly demand that they write into the bill a non-removable provision that all members of congress, all branches of government must submit to the exact insurance options being introduced in the legislation, including the President. When they misdirect, when they ignore, when they scoff, calmly ask them to answer in good faith.
Doing it this way, with calm, with a commitment to non-violence and non-emotionalism, we do not give them fodder to incite hate or frenzy. We do not lose ourselves in a moment and do something or say something we might regret. To be honest, if this is done well, we could actually give the dems an “out” -a way to put down the healthcare debate while saving face- by allowing them to say they have decided (like Bill and Hillary Clinton before them) that “urgent” healthcare reform is something that can be reassessed, but right now their constituents are losing their jobs, their homes and their faith in government, and serving those concerns is even more “urgent.” Suddenly, they’d become wise and humble champions of the democratic process.
They’d be heroes. And Obama might assent to that; he increasingly looks like a man who wishes it would all just go away.
If that doesn’t sit well – if you’re saying, “no good, Anchoress, I’m not going to let these miscreants get off unscathed after the government has called for a snitch brigade,” – well, remember that there is something heroic about humility, too. When you’re dealing with children, sometimes you have to let them pretend they’ve won, even though they suspect you allowed it. These people in power all seem to have cases of arrested development; they’re all about 14 years old. You have to let 14 year olds feel like they’ve come to their own conclusions, even if you have gently led them there.
The other option, of course, is the “encircle the capital ten-deep and don’t let them in until they stop behaving like monarchs,” idea. We can link arms and sing “We Shall Overcome” until Nancy Pelosi turns the hoses on us.
At which point we can chant, “the whole world is watching…”
Because things could not get any stranger in America, in 2009. There is this eerie sense of history being relived, through a funhouse mirror.
Btw, I just have to say this: Chris Matthews, who I used to rather like, has become a simply deplorable human being, and I doubt he realizes it. This is appalling and based on nothing. I want to send him a note that says, “have you no decency left, sir? Finally, have you no decency?”
But one battle at a time.
UPDATED: Reader lisap writes:
I was thinking of an easy way for all to remember talking points…We should be pointing out an alternate version–not just a NO to their ideas…
I was reading David Limbaugh’s column today and he quoted from an article by Sally Pipes “To 10 myths about Health Care and had suggestions…I put them down as follows…
V ouchers for working poor
I ndividual tax breaks much like employers
C ross state lines to purchase insurance
T ort Reform
O wn health savings accounts
R emove excessive state-mandated treatments
Y es! We the People CAN!
Also, Please read Fausta. The deficit has climbed to 1.3 Trillion and the president who grew it there (and who voted for all of Bush’s spending ideas while he in the senate) says he doesn’t want people to talk to him, he just wants them to shut up, so he can “fix their mess.” Such Breathtaking Leadership!
The Helpful Press: I got called a “political terrorist” last night, and I see that’s the new narrative. J-Nap will be pleased.
UPDATE II: 68% are satisfied with their health care. Doesn’t mean things couldn’t stand improvement, but it kind of shows us that the people forcing this on us are the same 28% who appear to comprise the hard-left, as we saw mere weeks after 9/11.
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