On the eve of the historic health care vote in the House of Representatives, Washington, DC was swarmed today with protesters rallying against what seems like the inevitable passage of the bill, especially with late ‘yes’ vote pledges from pro-life Democrats. Like past health care protests, signs and chants are filled with angry, hateful messages. In one case, a protester even yelled a slur at a congressman.
Besides the obvious fact that these images are despicable, what is fascinating about these emotionally charged health care protesters, Tea Party and alike, is that these are the people that would benefit the most from this bill passing. The interests behind trying to defeat this bill have convinced these people to not only be against their own interests, but to get out on the streets and protest. These powerful interests have been able to persuade people through scare tactics like ‘socialized medicine’ that health reform is aiming to place the government between patients and their doctor. This is an old page out of the GOP playbook (see the 2004 presidential election). If you scare people, you can convince them that giving insurance companies competition to prevent them from raising premiums, stopping the use of pre-existing conditions to deny coverage, and trying to fix a broken system and actually help people is a bad idea.
And apparently reports like the recent Congressional Budget Office estimate about the long term economic consequences of passing health care reform has no effect on these embattled, disenchanted protesters.
It will be interesting to see what signs these protesters will carry when they start seeing the benefits of health-care reform.