House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, wrote an interesting op-ed column in USA Today, calling the increasing numbers of Americans who are asking tough questions about the Democrats’ health-care scheme “un-American.” I know “interesting” probably isn’t the first adjective most people reading this would choose to describe it. It is interesting, though. It’s a desperate play by nervous politicians to extinguish resistance to a massive takeover they’re drooling with eagerness to complete. It’s the arrogant response of a political elite that sees itself as royalty, clad in the unimpeachable moral authority of democracy – a ruling class of philosopher-kings that only expects to be challenged once every couple of years, in carefully controlled local races they have a 90% chance of winning. Pelosi was elected from San Francisco in 1987, while Hoyer has been perched atop the 5th Congressional District of Maryland since 1981. To say that neither of them is used to sustained, energetic, effective resistance to their agendas would be an understatement.
The most interesting thing about Pelosi and Hoyer’s brand of McCarthyism is how pathetically ineffective it is. To their great surprise, calling the protesters “un-American” isn’t shutting them up. Today’s USA Today op-ed is the latest variation on one of the oldest plays in the Left’s playbook: painting their opposition as fundamentally illegitimate. It’s time for them to replace that page in their playbook, because it will never work again.
Declaring your opponents to be illegitimate is a lazy way to avoid having to debate them. No one expects powerful political leaders to lower themselves to debates with fringe lunatics. Much of the public will automatically ignore the ravings of madmen, without feeling any need to examine their arguments at length. If you discount the illegitimate opinions of all those insurance company shills, Republican party operatives, and racists thronging the town hall meetings, why, ObamaCare enjoys overwhelming support!
You can see this cynical ploy running in reverse, if you watch the dim light flickering behind Janeane Garofaolo’s eyes. Only racist Nazis could possibly oppose the magnificent agenda of Barack Obama, the modern Prometheus who dares to snatch universal health care from the evil gods of the insurance industry… therefore, everyone who opposes Obama must be a racist Nazi. Thus, the Tea Party movement stands revealed as a cleverly disguised Klan rally, with brainwashed race traitors distributing “Don’t Tread On Me” flags. Ken Gladney might have been black on the outside, but he had pools of Red State neo-fascism leaking out of him, by the time the SEIU goons were finished questioning his legitimacy.
The Democrats are accustomed to deploying this strategy without much effort, since they had the enthusiastic support of the media. When you have total control over camera placement, it’s easy to film someone like Cindy Sheehan and her tiny band of crackpots as a huge grassroots movement with absolute moral integrity. It’s equally easy to point the cameras away from gigantic pro-life rallies in Washington, and pretend they didn’t happen. Unfortunately for them, Democrats now live in a world where they don’t have complete control over the cinematography, script, and soundtrack of the American epic any more… and they will never get it back.
They began losing it during the 2004 election, most notably in the case of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. It was remarkable to watch Democrat media shills take to the air within minutes of the Swift Boat Vets being thrust into the national spotlight, declaring them “discredited” and floating the usual dark insinuations about their character and motives. For the first time in recent political history, it didn’t work. The 2004 campaign ended with those Democrat operatives weeping in frustration, unable to figure out why repeatedly calling them “the discredited Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” didn’t discredit them. Frustration turned to horror when the rising alternative media had the impudence to question the legitimacy of Dan Rather, the designated heir to Walter Cronkite, and bring his phony National Guard document scam crashing down in flames.
The cultural and media landscape has changed enough to deprive Democrats and their media allies of the power to rule their opponents out-of-bounds easily. It’s darkly amusing to watch them fumble across this new, less slanted landscape, shrieking the devil words they think will scare voters out of questioning them. If you look beyond the squalid little insinuations about swastikas and un-American fifth columns, even the less hysterical challenges to the legitimacy of their opponents are revealing. The accusation that people asking questions at town hall meetings are paid operatives of the insurance companies supposes the superior virtue of politicians to private industry. When Obama’s political staff sends out marching orders to supporters, along with scripts for how to look credible and concerned while advocating state-run health care, it is considered to be noble “community organizing.” If insurance companies were to assist with any kind of organized resistance to Obama’s agenda, it would be denounced as sleazy and sinister.
To appreciate this mindset, you must embrace the central tenet of socialism: the State is caring, compassionate, and wise, far beyond the vile and money-grubbing businessmen of the private sector. The insurance industry couldn’t possibly know anything useful about insuring people, could it? Of course not. Only their greed prevents them from showering Americans with cheap, universal coverage. The same dynamic is at play when liberals sneer at the idea of allowing energy companies to have any say in energy policy. It’s also why the Left loves to extol the virtues of “working Americans,” while offering only hatred to the business owners who employ them, and arrogant contempt for the consumerist culture that purchases the products they create. On any given topic, the only legitimate voices belong to politicians and their supporters. Businessmen are expected to sit quietly in their cells and await judgment.
The Left’s challenge to the legitimacy of its opponents stands reality on its head. In truth, there is no greed as boundless and vicious as a politician’s lust for power… and unlike the energetic pursuit of the profit motive, the greed of a Nancy Pelosi produces nothing useful as a side effect. There is no class of people less qualified to run any industry than the political class, whose priorities never include the health of the industries they run into the ground. No one cares less about their “employees” and “customers” than a liberal politician. No one should be allowed to “buy” controlling interest in any industry with a stack of ballots, because the Constitutional restraints on government were not meant as minor inconveniences for the State to navigate around. Elections may have consequences, but the suspension of anyone’s right to property or free speech should never be among them.
In the end, health insurance is like any other commodity. There are only two ways to obtain it: buy it, or force someone else to give it to you. The people who understand this cold truth do not sacrifice the legitimacy of their dissent by acting outraged in the face of an outrage.