From Daily Kos
August 6, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California
So we know that the screamers and right-wing performance artists are part of a larger astroturf effort. They don’t represent a significant segment of the actual voting population in the country. But you know what, that doesn’t make a damned bit of difference if they’re the only ones showing up.
Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes made that point in the video clip DarkSyde posted earlier:
MADDOW: Chris, one of the great regrets of Democrats that I have heard over the past decade is that they weren’t called by their party to go fight in Florida the way that Republicans called their people to go fight in Florida. Looking back on Florida nine years down the road, now that we know what happened there, can you imagine how things might have worked out if Democrats had done the same thing that Republicans did?
MADDOW: I mean, is it conceivable that they might have asked Democrats to go there?
HAYES: Well, I mean, to consider the counterfactual, it’s undeniable the Democrats got out-hustled and they got out-organized. And I want to say, at a certain level, right, what the right is doing right now is corporate sponsored and it’s astro-turf but it’s organizing. They’re coordinating.
There is a set of very powerful interests that are spending literally millions of dollars a day to defeat this agenda and they’re coordinating it. And the answer in a free Democratic republic like our own is to meet organizing with more organizing, to not get out-hustled to make sure that people who are going bankrupt from the health insurers are showing up at these meetings in blue dog districts, et cetera.
So I think there’s a really crucial lesson from Florida, which is that you can’t get out-hustled. You need to organize. And this is – look, democracy is about the nonviolent resolution of political conflict. And there is political conflict here, and Democrats have to organize their own forces.
Later in the show, Rep. Lloyd Doggett made the same point:
MADDOW: We’ve seen some of the memos and sort of talking points and instructions that had been leaked from the corporate organizers of these events, the people who are making sure that these happen all over the country, not just in your district, and they say that the objective is to rattle the congressman. What is it-what’s it like to be on the receiving end of that sort of thing?
DOGGETT: Well, you know, it was-it was a bit of a surprise because I’ve been doing these events for 15 years and I have never had the Republican Party organize protesters like this. But I think it served a very educational purpose and it continues to, because people need to not sit back and think that President Obama and a Democratic Congress can solve all of these problems. They have to be engaged and involved.
We cannot turn over the agenda to folks that really remind me, Rachel, like that crowd of Republican staffers that showed up for Bush against Gore down in Florida. It’s the same kind of approach.
So how do you do it? HCAN has some tools both to find townmeetings and healthcare forums in your area, and their own strategy memo [pdf] for how to keep them from changing the story and creating a media event. I’d add another, take a camera and record the craziness. Share it widely so that everyone can see just how extreme and out-of-the-mainstream these people are. FDL also has a townmeeting tracker widget running on Campaign Silo, where you can see who’s holding meetings and when.
If you want this, show up and let your representatives–and the traditional media–know it. Show them that the majority of people in this country want real reform and want it now. Don’t let the screamers change the subject. Don’t let them shut down democracy.