While most of the media (and our friends at Daily Kos) have picked up on the insanity that was Rep. Dingell's town hall meeting, there was another protest going on with the right wingers in Michigan's 9th Congressional District, in the city of Troy.
Gary Peters, MI-9's freshman representative, was being protested by teabaggers at his Troy office. The right-wing nutbars realized that Peters was looking to avoid a town hall meeting because he was in no mood to be protested by people outside of his district, so they decided to protest outside of his office in the hopes that it would scare him into not voting for health care reform (I'm guessing it didn't work).
The counter-protestors (led by local activist Bruce Fealk, known on here as bfealk) got to the area at 3:30 in the afternoon, a half hour before the protest was scheduled. As soon as we got out there a few loud right-wingers started shouting at us, calling us socialists and whatnot. I have to admit that socialist cry doesn't carry the same weight it used to. I used to be offended by the term. Now I don't even notice it. If an Army veteran like myself isn't offended by the term "Socialist", you can be sure the right is wearing out the meaning real quick.
For the first 15 minutes of the counter protest, one guy in particular (who later identified himself in Bruce Fealk's video as Roger) was very hostile. Video below shows Bruce confronting him on camera about his statement that he would like to kill Bruce.
I didn't take the insults personally, but one thing that did anger me was the defacing of the American flag by the tea baggers. Apparently they think it's patriotic to use the 1776 flag with the circle of stars, and then have the roman numeral 2 (II) in the middle. I called the guy out for defacing the American flag and said he should be ashamed of himself.
There weren't any major acts of violence, although one guy did shove Bruce for having his megaphone too close to the guy's face. The situation deescalated when I got close to him and flexed. Right-wingers tend to not get physical around me, being that I'm 6' 4" tall and built like a brick shithouse.:) I told the right-wingers that they needed to chill out and quit taking all of this personally. It's just politics.
Our turnout was good considering the counter-protest was planned only about 9 hours in advance. There were about 25 people on our side. Still, we were outnumbered at least 5 to 1. But we still beat the protestors anyway.
There were three lessons that I learned from this experience.
- Just by being there, the media was forced to cover both sides of the debate. Whereas previous tea party protests were one-sided, the local news media was forced to interview people who were anti-health care and people who were for it. The hopes that the protestors had of having a one sided discussion were taken away.
That's how you beat the tea baggers. You show up and make yourself known to the media. As Kos said in Taking On the System, the purpose of the protest is to attract media attention. It's real easy to beat the protestors in this if you have a large enough counter-protest.
- The right-wing has gone completely insane. Yes, I know this should be obvious, but I didn't realize how truly batshit crazy these people are! There was not a single conspiracy theory involving health care that I didn't hear at this event. First I heard that Obama secretly wants to do away with private health care. Then they said Obama was forcing businesses to buy private health care. Then they said Obama was trying to destroy the government health care we already have. Then they said Obama wants to destroy all health care completely. And that's just the batshit crazy stuff I remember. These people really, honestly, and truly believe that Obama himself is going to come into their houses, steal all their guns and money, and leave their grandma to die.
There once was a time when I thought these people could be reasoned with. After all, I once considered myself a conservative. But I just don't believe that anymore. These people have completely given up any sense of rational thought. They're like the followers of Maryanne in True Blood. Acting completely under the control of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, they've completely abandoned any semblance of rational thought and only act according to their masters' wishes. The only way to beat these people is to use large numbers and destroy them through humiliation and ridicule. There simply is no other way.
- The right is every bit as bold and crazy as we were in 2005. If we're to beat them, then we have to get off our asses and get out there just like we were four years ago. Look, I know we're tired. We've been fighting for years. But if we don't keep fighting these bastards all the victories we've won will be for naught. If we continue to stay at home while they protest, we will lose the media narrative.
So suck it up, ladies and gentlemen. We still have plenty of work to do. This shit isn't even close to being over.