07.31.2009 0

Special Report: The Town Hall Turnaround

  • On: 08/24/2009 09:33:54
  • In: Uncategorized
  • By Robert Romano

    When members of Congress returned home this month for the August recess, they probably were not expecting that they were walking straight into a political buzz saw. In the least, they have sought to minimize its impact—which has been nothing short of a game-changer in the debate over ObamaCare.

    “I’m not afraid of August,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the time. “It’s only a month.” The Speaker grossly underestimated public opposition then to Democrat plans to stage a government takeover of no less than the nation’s entire health care system. She has eaten those words.

    And it is a mistake that could prove politically fatal when the legislation comes up for a vote in September. On Saturday, August 22nd, thousands of citizens rallied in towns and cities across the nation in opposition in the nationwide Recess Rally.

    Like they did on April 15th at the tea parties, Americans have once again taken the opportunity to express their firm stance—this time against legislation that would eliminate private health options, result in rationing of care, and generate insurmountable debt.

    Call it the Town Hall Turnaround.

    Across the country, ordinary Americans have been attending rowdy town hall meetings and staging protests outside of Congressional district offices. These have included “Grannies and Gramps” who demonstrated outside of Congressman John Barrow’s office in Savannah, Georgia with canes, demanding a “No” vote on ObamaCare. “This is too important,” said Dottie Mitchell, grandmother of six. “The government shouldn’t be able to force us into a meeting and tell us how to die.”

    In Texas Congressional District 17, protesters simultaneously appeared in front of all district offices simultaneously demanding Congressman Chet Edwards hold a town hall meeting. “We want to have a face-to-face discussion with Rep. Edwards,” Texas A&M student Brent Volk said, adding that he was “inviting Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and Tea Party folks to come meet at his local office and hopefully, hear from our congressman there.” After some persistence, Edwards got the message and town halls were scheduled.

    And in Zanesville, Ohio, small businessmen demanded the same from Congressman Zack Space where, according to one activist-businessman, “his August schedule was set months ago. Mr. Space apparently can’t set aside a single day to meet with us.”

    These are just some of the sensational scenes of an August recess that has been anything but relaxing for members of the House of Representatives. And there is little doubt that they are having a monumental impact in shaping the national debate at a critical time. According to Rasmussen Reports, 54 percent of voters now believe that no health care legislation this year would be a better option than the current bill, which only 35 percent support.

    All of which comes as little surprise to Dan Tripp, Director of Political Operations at Americans for Limited Government. ALG’s field operations have been reaching out to tea party and other citizen activists across the country, providing coordination, training, and if necessary, logistical support, all to help opponents of Barack Obama’s socialized medicine scheme amplify their voices in local and national media markets.

    “Our operation is about empowering local citizens,” said Tripp in an exclusive interview with ALG News. “We realize this is bigger than us. People are sick and tired of government, of the bailouts that started a lot of this ball rolling, of cap and trade where hundreds of thousands of jobs are going to be lost, of the spending, of the jets that Congress is trying to authorize. It’s a whole series of things. People are just fed up.”

    Which is little wonder, said Tripp as he explained the motivation underlying the ObamaCare protests, “When you talk about a health care plan that would literally take over one-seventh of the economy and cost $1 trillion to a $1.5 trillion over the next ten years, and interferes with their relationship with their doctors—when you talk about a bill that changes the very essence of American ideals, that’s just the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

    And its impact has been felt nationwide, he said. As one young woman, Katy Abram, said in Pennsylvania face-to-face to Arlen Specter, “This is about the systematic dismantling of this country… and you have awakened a Sleeping Giant.” Tripp said Katy’s attitude reflected a general anxiety about Barack Obama’s proposals, and that Katy spoke for millions of Americans.

    The anger, he said, was genuine and could not be staged. “It truly is a local effort. That’s the only way we’ve been able to cut through the natural enmity that exists between local activists and national activists.”

    Tripp said the initial goal of outreach efforts was to help move votes. “We knew that if we could create enough angst in the Blue Dog districts and in the House Energy and Commerce committee, we might be able to hold it up through August. And force these Congressmen to go home to listen to their constituents. That became the driving force of our efforts in July.”

    Tripp said the effect on moving the votes had already been effective. “That’s why they paused; they felt the pressure.”

    Tripp said that pushing Congress the right way—away from the special interests—could only be done effectively by concerned citizens on the ground in their own districts. “I think that the ‘Astroturf’ argument is wrong in reality because these protests that are going on at the local level are truly ground-up. And they are highly resistant to a national group coming in and telling them what to do,” he explained.

    Instead, he said, ALG’s efforts were to assist in bringing the activists to the forefront. “Where we succeeded is our goal was not to generate media for ALG, our goal was to win on the issue and to help organize the tea parties by pushing them forward. We’re helping them. But we’re helping them generate press. We’re helping them generate opposition.”

    Which was not without purpose, Tripp said. It is the American people who together will pay the price for ObamaCare. And by speaking aloud and loudly together, they have been their own most effective advocate for saving the health care system, more so than any national leader or organization.

    And in the final analysis, it is they who will decide if ObamaCare—and its $1.5 trillion price tag (at least)—are a burden worth bearing to “transform” yet another sector of the American economy. They have the power to vote, and thus possess the most leverage to move their representatives.

    Said Tripp, “Blue Dogs and other vulnerable Democrats are the natural targets if you’re going to try and sway votes. They feel the pressure the most. It’s right in their face.” And the impact of American people’s firm opposition cannot be denied as the Town Hall Turnaround and a long, long summer for Nancy Pelosi and Democrat members of Congress roils onward.

    Robert Romano is the ALG Senior News Editor.


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