The anger at the town hall debates is turning very confrontational and even dangerous. At this town hall in Tampa there was a near riot.
Meanwhile, in a St. Louis suburb, Russ Carnahan held a town hall meeting and the raucus created forced a call to the police and even some arrests.
Finally, Rep John Dingell got an earful himself at his town hall.
Now, first, no one should encourage violence or physical confrontation. So, let's hope that these scenes are kept to a minimum. Second, watch for the Democrats and their allies to use these scenes to paint the protestors as unhinged, violent, and unwilling to have a debate but rather there only to shout down.
I personally believe that the protestors do themselves no favor by turning these town hall debates into a shouting match in which the politicians are really never even given a chance to speak. It hurts their cause even more when these events turn violent. Opponents can easily characterize the protestors as unhinged, out of control, and thus part of the fringe if these scenes continue.
Over the next couple days, I believe you're going to see Democrats use the characterization that these protestors are plants and astro turfers a lot less. What you will see is Democrats and their allies bemoaning the lack of debate created by the chaos. They will try and marginalize these protestors as fringe folks looking to come and disrupt. They will succeed if these town hall confrontations do not themselves evolve.
Yet, that's what I expect to happen over the next week or two. What no one understands about the Tea Party movement, of which these town hall confrontations is the most recent metamorphosis, is that not only are they totally fluid, free form, but also totally organic. That means they don't ever flow based on some sort of pre planned script. The anger you see in these videos is totally real, but these folks will soon see that out of control anger will do them no good. They also watch television, read the news, and listen to talk radio. They will know how this is going to be portrayed. So, soon enough, you will see town hall meetings turn a lot more civil.
As soon as Democrats and their allies tried to paint these folks as "Astro Turfers", (those organized and funded by powerful groups with an agenda) I knew the Democrats had comitted their final fatal error. The Democrats simply don't understand who is at these meetings expressing their anger. Worse than that, they don't really know who these people are. They are defining a force well beyond their understanding. As such,their definition will be totally off base. Soon enough, you will see these protests transform themselves and the Democrats will race to re define them again. Of course, you get so many chances to define your opponent. Once these town hall meetings turn well attended, anti health care reform, but civil, that will be the final death blow to health care reform.
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