It seems the Democrats in Congress have had enough of grassroots democracy. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The health-care debate was supposed to play out at rallies and inside gymnasiums when lawmakers headed home for the August recess.
But after a series of contentious town-hall meetings, some Democratic lawmakers are thinking twice about holding large public gatherings. Instead, they are opting for smaller sessions, holding meetings by phone or inviting constituents for one-on-one office hours.
Democrats have accused Republicans of manufacturing the opposition by organizing groups to attend the events and encouraging disruptive behavior. Republican organizers say the unrest reflects genuine anger about the proposed health-care changes.
“Democrats may think that attacking or ignoring this growing chorus of Americans is a smart strategy, but they are obviously forgetting that these concerned citizens are voters as well,” said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP’s campaign arm.
So the solution is to run away from voters and hide? Well, at least hide from groups of them. This is a far cry from the White House spin that August was going to be the time for voters to exact revenge on those mean Blue Dogs and Republicans who were standing in the way of nationalized health care. Now the Democrats are reduced to accusing their constituents of being puppets of insurance companies (or is it of the RNC?). Aside from the sheer stupidity and crassness of politicians demeaning ordinary citizens who bother to come to a town-hall meeting, this of course suggests there is no groundswell for ObamaCare.
All that momentum (OK, more like, all that inertia) that was building up in Congress—what happens now? With the voters’ complaints ringing in their ears, are the Blue Dogs more or less inclined to vote for the public option? Which Democrats from unsafe seats are going to return secure in the knowledge that a vote for ObamaCare is a going to help their re-election prospects?
Talk in Congress may turn to Plan B (sock it to the insurance companies) or a watered down public-option plan, but if the lawmakers are learning anything, it is that the most vocal, organized, and energized part of the electorate is fed up with a flood of expensive, unread legislation flying through Congress. Perhaps there is a large constituency out there for “no” after all. It got an awfully bad name, but “no” seems to be what the voters are saying. And unless there are some carefully crafted, specific reforms that won’t increase the deficit or disturb the health insurance of the vast majority of Americans who both have insurance and like it, the “safe” vote is just “no.” Then they can work on getting the economy back on track and reducing the deficit. Now that approach might get some cheers from these crowds.