Florida Democrats astroturf GOP town halls!
…and don’t do a very good job of it, really. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Rep. Daniel Webster got heckled by “members of progressive groups such as Moveon.org and Organize Now,” while Allen West got screamed at by a woman later identified as being a former radio host for Air America (remember them*?). A few things to note about this:
- When the newspapers are taking the time to note that hecklers are professional activists, then the activists are officially Doing It Wrong.
- And the reason why the activists are officially Doing It Wrong is because the goal of the exercise is to upset and dismay the legislator that you’re trying to target. During the health care town hall meltdown, what one took away from it was the way that Democratic legislators ran and hid from their own constituents. Politicians who didn’t – like, dagnabbit, Barney Frank – generally came out of the situation with little trouble.
- And in fact neither Webster nor West were particularly upset nor dismayed at the reaction. Webster kept patiently explaining his votes and calmly engaging the screamers. West bluntly told his screamers that they weren’t going to intimidate him.
Both strategies are correct, by the way, and probably based on personal experience; Webster was already been called every name in the book by Alan Grayson, and West probably doesn’t take any threat seriously unless it’s backed up by an AK-47 being brandished. The point here is that both legislators almost certainly realize that they were being deliberately targeted by a top-down organization, and that they shouldn’t particularly take any of this personally; it’s just Democratic business, that’s all. This is in stark difference to 2009 and 2010, when over sixty Democratic legislators suddenly had it brought home to them that their constituents had decided to take their Obamacare vote personally.
So, why did the Democrats bother? Oh, that’s an easy one: the poor folks don’t know how to do a real populist movement. Worse, they don’t really know that they don’t know how to do a populist movement, either – so the Democrats are probably thinking right now that what they came up instead with will actually work to intimidate the GOP, bless their hearts…
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*It’s all right if you don’t. Nobody else does, either.