Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Right's Latest Campaign: The War on Public Opinion

Town hall meetings were made popular in the last election. Both Obama and McCain traveled the nation, addressing small gatherings of citizens with pertinent questions on the issues. They're great ways to ask elected officials about the things we care about as citizens--things the mainstream media too often neglects in their own interviews. Town hall meetings are the epitome of intelligent public discourse; the people demand answers, and elected officials are held directly accountable by giving those answers instead of standard campaign platitudes. I covered one of John McCain's own town hall meetings in Inez just over a year ago.

With so many questions about the recently approved and incredibly complex health care legislation in the house, democrats who voted in favor of it are giving town hall meetings in their own districts. This gives their constituents a direct opportunity to ask questions about how the bill will affect them as a family or a community. Again, great opportunity for public discourse and getting answers.

But as we've seen, the extreme right isn't interested in intelligent discussion, when fearmongering and xenophobia are much more effective in influencing opinion. Thus, the right wing's latest strategy is to gather the teabaggers we saw in April to travel to these town hall meetings and create a nuisance, preventing people from asking questions about legislation that affects them. It also gives an opportunity for the right wing media to spin this as a populist movement; the people versus the politicians. Places like FOX news and Drudge will pick up on this, and report the Recess Rallies as democratic constituents standing in opposition to democratic legislators.

This latest tactic of the right is nothing new--similar tactics were staged in Iran in the middle part of the 20th century. To better secure US oil interests, Eisenhower deployed CIA operative Kermit Roosevelt (Teddy's grandson) to Iran in order to stage false rallies and protests (think Tax Day Tea Parties) to make it look like their democratically-elected prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, was incompetent and not in control of his people. This was spun in US papers as a populist uprising, and in a carefully-staged coup, Mossadegh was overthrown and the Shah of Iran was put in power. As a puppet government supported by US corporate interests, the Shah turned Iran into a very profitable scheme for the US.

The Recess Rallies are no different. You've most likely seen your friends post a link to this on their twitter or facebook pages.

The Recess Rally is thus nothing more than a carefully-staged coup, organized by the vast right wing conspiracy and choreographed to resemble a populist uprising. This is a low-down, below-the-belt political strategy that ultimately seeks to undermine the credibility of democratic lawmakers and sow the seeds for the extreme right's puppets to take their place.

The Real Goal of the Recess Rally

I'm currently in the process of writing both the second piece in my latest blogging project on how right wing extremists think and how progressives can effectively counter their strategies. That project was interrupted after I read gained a wealth of previously unknown information on shady US foreign policy after WWII.

But now, I've put both of those projects on hold to address an extremely dire situation that is currently in the works as I'm writing this sentence.

The right wing hate machine has focused its efforts on shouting down intelligent discussion at these town hall meetings. This is also a strategic political intiative, as these rallies serve to provide an illusion to the media that people are at loggerheads with their elected officials in democratic districts, paving the way for a right wing power grab in 2010.

It is imperative that each of us, as media consumers, read between the lines as these stories surface, and realize the significance of this latest conservative strategy. It's no longer the fringe conservatives that are a part of this movement; the Becks/Hannitys/Levins/Limbaughs/Savages of the world have successfully shouted down all moderate conservatives either our of the party or into submission.

As progressives, we must stop underestimating the power conservatives have on our public discourse and in their numbers and powerful organization, and work to reverse it.

Go to these town hall meetings, and expose the teabaggers for what theyb are to any media outlet willing to give you your peace of mind. We cannot let neoconservatives steal the public dialogue any longer.

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