The Harassment Strategy

THE HARASSMENT STRATEGY…. On Friday, Lee Fang had a good item on the far-right strategy some activists have embraced to argue against health care reform. Lobbyist-run organizations — some of the same groups that organized right-wing Tea Parties in April — have encouraged conservatives to be disruptive, including “yelling,” “shouting,” and “rattling” policymakers during public events. One leaked strategy memo said, “Look for these opportunities before [a member of Congress] even takes questions.”

Who needs civility and intelligent discourse when we have confused mobs of far-right activists organized by corporate lobbyists?

The House has been in recess for only a few days, but we’re already seeing the results of the right-wing efforts.

This past weekend, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) was the latest victim of the right’s strategy, where protesters followed him and chanted “just say no” to health care.

Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the nation and stands to be among the most to gain from Obama’s health care plan. “[N]early 6 million Texans, including the one in six U.S. uninsured children who live there, could get health insurance for the first time if the plan is enacted.” […]

An angry crowd also exploded at Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. The Philadelphia Daily News reports, “They wore bumper stickers on their foreheads. They carried signs. They shouted insults at notable American figures — and each other. Loudly.”

This isn’t just about intimidating lawmakers, it’s also about exercising something of a heckler’s veto — if the mob can prevent an honest discussion of health care reform, people who’ll benefit from the legislation won’t learn what it’s in it for them and why the conservative arguments are wrong.

It’s just what the lobbyist organizers of the Harassment Strategy need.