Now that Sarah Palin has been eaten by a grue, the mantle of Person In the Republican Party Who Might Actually Believe That Stuff has been taken up by Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann. You may remember Bachmann from her bizarre assertions about the US Census and its possible role in a massive government conspiracy—something she stopped talking about after a census worker was killed in Kentucky. Like Palin, Bachmann believes in an American People whose will is diametrically opposed to that of the federal government—particularly the Congress part of the government, which she, bafflingly, is a part of. Also like Palin, her signature issue has become health care reform. Despite polls showing that most Americans favor a public option, Bachmann knows that “real, freedom-loving Americans” oppose the government “taking away [their] health care.” To make their voices heard, she’s taken it upon herself to organize a protest on the steps of Capitol Hill at noon today, at which she encourages protestors to enter their congresspeople’s offices and demand that they vote against health care reform. “This is the Super Bowl of freedom, this week,” she says. How can Michele Bachmann find the resources and communication apparatus to organize such a Super Bowl, in which an abstract concept competes with another, unnamed abstract concept on a week’s notice? Well, fortunately there’s Fox News:
It turns out that you can’t just walk into your congressman’s office and yell at him, by the way. Shortly before the scheduled protest, nine of what health industry lobbyist Phil Kerpen called “grassroots Americans” were arrested in the Hart Senate Office Building. It’s important to note, here, that Bachmann doesn’t want people to just show up and chant on the capitol steps; she wants them to actually enter congressional offices and “scare” their representatives into voting against health care. “We don’t have the votes to stop this,” Bachmann says in the video, “but the American people do. They are the strongest voice we have.”
Let’s not consider, just now, who Michele Bachmann believes “we” are when she says, of the American people, that “they” are the strongest voice “we” have. We’ll save that for when we’re trying to fall asleep. What I consider most telling is that Bachmann acknowledges that in Congress—the legislative body of the United States federal government, whose members were duly elected by the American people, many of them like a year ago—the GOP doesn’t have the votes to kill health care reform. Yet she somehow believes that national elections and democratically chosen representatives do not accurately reflect the will of the American people, whereas her own vague ideas about Real Americans who love freedom and hate socialism do. Such reasoning would be intellectually dishonest form a pundit—a Glenn Beck or a Bill Maher, say—but from a member of that same US Congress, it’s downright baffling. Michele Bachmann is going on television to tell the American people to rise up and scare Congress, in ways that will probably turn out to be against the law, when she herself is a member of Congress.
Fortunately, in a functioning liberal democracy with an independent press, members of Congress can’t just commandeer a television station in order to organize an anti-government protest. Oh, wait. Since the RNC declined to support Bachmann’s protest, Fox News has been flogging it around the clock. Sean Hannity, Andrew Napolitano, the surprisingly lifelike Gretchen Carlson*—all of them are urging Americans to come to Washington DC and oppose the duly-elected United States Congress’s dastardly plan to pass a bill that seventy percent of Americans support. So let’s recap: In order to prevent Congress from passing a health care reform bill, a member of the House of Representatives—who has received over a million dollars in contributions from the health and insurance industries since 2006—goes on a television show hosted by a former Miss America—whose family used to hire that member of the House as a babysistter—that’s broadcast on a network owned by the ultra-conservative, 132nd richest person in the world, in order to promote the protest that Congresswoman is co-organizing with Americans For Prosperity—which just happens to get 85% of its funding from the second-largest privately held company in the United States, Koch Industries, which is owned by the ultra-conservative oil baron Charles Koch.
That sounds like a grassroots movement of real Americans to me. If only our disconnected Congress would wake up and start responding to the universally-held concerns of oil magnates and beauty pageant winners, instead of trying to get us to become the last industrialized nation on earth to implement some form of government-sponsored health insurance, maybe we could finally get some freedom around here.
Conservative populism is a sham. It’s a fabrication of lobbyists and their paid congresspeople, funded by one billionaire’s personal advocacy organization and foisted on the elderly and undereducated by another billionaire’s personal media conglomerate. When Representative Bachmann urges you to disrupt the workings of the United States Congress, she’s asking you to hand over the reins of government to the plutocrats who would rather see you die of cancer than maybe get something for free. There is a vast conspiracy at work in this nation, but it’s not between Congress and socialism—it’s between money and stupidity. One side has the cash and the other side has the numbers. As for what’s going to happen to those of us in the middle—well, I don’t know. Do you feel sick?