Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Welcome To My Town Hall...Now GO HOME!" How GOP Thuggery Treats Democracy

Well, Kids, I sure hope our intrepid pundit Rachel Maddow will pick up on this story. My fellow Politicos, I was having a bit of a writer's block until The Hubby told me about this travesty of justice. I'm sure you've heard of Allan West, the infamous representative from Florida. You remember, the guy who told The President to put himself in harm's way and spouts the "socialist" lines his party feeds him? Well, he had himself a little Town Hall meeting the other day, that time-honored tradition of small-d democracy. Unfortunately, even though West was able to pre-screen the questions the audience submitted and only swing at the softballs (yeah, that's the spirit!), there were still dissenting voices in the packed to the gunnels hall. And then, out of the blue, came a tough question, one designed to hold West accountable. Why, imagine the gall of an ordinary citizen to question his or her elected representative! Shocking! And one of those dissenting voices was none other than former Air America commentator Nicole Sandler. From her website, here's the video - check this out...

As you can see, she did nothing out of the ordinary, and certainly appears much less combative than the Tea Partiers who stormed the Town Halls in the last few years. Sandler asked legitimate questions, bravely, in the face of a hostile audience and while outnumbered ten-fold. God bless her! And the girl's dead-on, on all counts. First of all, I love the way she reminds everyone of the point of a Town Hall - the give and take, the debate (hopefully civil), the idea of allowing Americans who are your constituents to put their two cents in. What West's thugs do here is criminal, shutting down legitimate questions from constituents by using brute force while he pontificates and has his enforcers shut down any questions. In this clip, those are his private security force that you see, in addition to the schmuck whose videotaping the scene and trying, poorly, to slant the interview. What a sad, strange little man! See for yourself:

Yep, my fellow Politicos, free speech is sincerely dead-in-the-water. How long before the rest of us don't get to speak out? How long before the Citizens United decision silences the voice of all Dems at the ballot box? How many more voter suppression bills will be passed before the right to vote is gone as well? When I called my Representative's office, asking about Town Halls, they would not tell me when any were scheduled. They stated that it would be posted on his web site, if they were scheduled. Couldn't tell me when, but hey, why would the GOP be in a hurry to listen to constituents? What a foreign, socialist concept!

Want to now what's really terrifying, and heartbreaking for this Momma? Tweenie, now a beautiful, smart, socially aware teen, just asked me to please never get into a situation where what happened to Nicole Sandler might happen to me: speaking out in a Town Hall and getting arrested for expressing my views. Never in a million years, did I ever dream that my children would grow up in a world where they'd be afraid of their mom attending a meeting designed for citizens to talk to their representatives about their concerns, and feeling legitimate fear that she'd get arrested for expressing an opposing view. This, my fellow Politicos, is not the America in which I grew up. This is not the America in which we believe, in which our representatives are accountable to "We The People." The suppression of primarily Democratic voters, the systematic destruction of the middle class and de-legitimization of the presidency, the elimination of The Bill of Rights for corporate gain, and the pitting of citizen against citizen using fear and terror as weapons...this is not our America. This is not the America in which we learned that freedom of speech and the exchange of ideas are patriotic. My dear Politicos, that is fast disappearing. When my children have to ask me not to attend a meeting of our representative government out of fear for my safety, there is something seriously wrong with what was once our democracy. That's not the socialism the right harps about, that is the GOP's brand of fascism rearing its ugly head. And that is not the American legacy I wish to leave to my children. 
When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.
~ Sinclair Lewis
I call on you, my fellow Politicos, to keep fighting the good fight. Spread the word of this horrendous story. Pass on the links, and let your fellow citizens hear what is going on, let them see it for themselves. Call your representatives. Ask about when they'll be holding a Town Meeting. And don't let this Republican thuggery deter you from asking the important questions that must be asked of we wish to keep our small-d democracy intact. Tweet, blog, email, talk around the water cooler, remind your aging parents of the tactics of fear being used to manipulate them. Call Harry Reid's office and call for a vote on the Paul Ryan "budget" - ask for a roll call vote and make them go on the record with a yea or a nay that their districts back home can see. Take a look at The Progressive Caucus' Budget and call the Rethugs to the carpet, reminding them there are better ways to make things right in our country again and that we must honor our democratic ideals and the sacred promises we made to  future generations. And above all, keep letting them know you are here. Any way you can. Don't let Nicole Sandler stand alone. Keep fighting the good fight for the ideals of liberty we all share, so that our kids don't have to fear their parents speaking out for their beliefs in what we hope will remain the Land of The Free and Home of The Brave.

'Nuff said for one late night rant. Need to get your rant on? Put your two cents in here on Momma Politico!