When Vice President Joe Biden appears in Detroit today to unveil $2.4 billion in grants for electric vehicle projects, members of Organizing for America may be there to cheer him on: OFA emailed its members in Michigan last night urging them to "counter mob rule," as the DNC press office put it, by showing up at the event. It's the first field effort by OFA or the Democratic National Committee (under which OFA operates) to counter the anti-health-reform town-hall/protest phenomenon. Organizing for America Michigan State Director Aletheia Henry wrote:
This event comes at a crucial time. Special interests trying to sink health insurance reform. Organized mobs across the country are intimidating lawmakers, disrupting events, and silencing discussions about the change our country needs. The challenges our country faces are simply too great to let these debates be overrun by those angrily shouting down change...
...We need to show that we're sick and tired of the fear mongering.
Biden's event won't be quite like a town-hall: a limited number of general-public tickets were given out yesterday, and Biden won't take questions. OFA supporters are encouraged to meet at a corner two blocks away.
The Democratic National Committee also launched a word-of-mouth campaign today against the raucous town-hall goers: it blasted out the following talking points about the "organized mobs" via email, asking supporters to pass them along to friends and family:
There's been a lot of media coverage about organized mobs intimidating lawmakers, disrupting town halls, and silencing real discussion about the need for real health insurance reform.
The truth is, it's a sham. These "grassroots protests" are being organized and largely paid for by Washington special interests and insurance companies who are desperate to block reform. They're trying to use lies and fear to break the President and his agenda for change.
Health insurance reform is about our lives, our jobs, and our families -- we can't let distortions and intimidation get in the way. We need to expose these outrageous tactics, and we're counting on you to help. Can you read these "5 facts about the anti-reform mobs," then pass them along to your friends and family?
5 facts about the anti-reform mobs
1. These disruptions are being funded and organized by out-of-district special-interest groups and insurance companies who fear that health insurance reform could help Americans, but hurt their bottom line. A group run by the same folks who made the "Swiftboat" ads against John Kerry is compiling a list of congressional events in August to disrupt. An insurance company coalition has stationed employees in 30 states to track where local lawmakers hold town-hall meetings.
2. People are scared because they are being fed frightening lies. These crowds are being riled up by anti-reform lies being spread by industry front groups that invent smears to tarnish the President's plan and scare voters. But as the President has repeatedly said, health insurance reform will create more health care choices for the American people, not reduce them. If you like your insurance or your doctor, you can keep them, and there is no "government takeover" in any part of any plan supported by the President or Congress.
3. Their actions are getting more extreme. Texas protesters brought signs displaying a tombstone for Rep. Lloyd Doggett and using the "SS" symbol to compare President Obama's policies to Nazism. Maryland Rep. Frank Kratovil was hanged in effigy outside his district office. Rep. Tim Bishop of New York had to be escorted to his car by police after an angry few disrupted his town hall meeting -- and more examples like this come in every day. And they have gone beyond just trying to derail the President's health insurance reform plans, they are trying to "break" the President himself and ruin his Presidency.
4. Their goal is to disrupt and shut down legitimate conversation. Protesters have routinely shouted down representatives trying to engage in constructive dialogue with voters, and done everything they can to intimidate and silence regular people who just want more information. One attack group has even published a manual instructing protesters to "stand up and shout" and try to "rattle" lawmakers to prevent them from talking peacefully with their constituents.
5. Republican leadership is irresponsibly cheering on the thuggish crowds. Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner issued a statement applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and looking forward to "a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress."
It's time to expose this charade, before it gets more dangerous. Please send these facts to everyone you know. You can also post them on your website, blog, or Facebook page.
Now, more than ever, we need to stand strong together and defend the truth.
Jen O'Malley Dillon
Democratic National Committee