Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wouldn't a Healthcare Riot Be Fun?

I think I just experienced my first push poll. This is probably because I'm still registered as a Republican even though I'm not homophobic, xenophobic, or Xian, and I don't tell or believe lies that are labeled as facts (these appear to be the current prerequisites for membership). My wife and I just decided long ago that one would register as a Dem. and the other as GOP to get all the voting info from both parties. I lost the coin toss.

Anyway, the phone rang this afternoon (I wish I'd paid more attention before I realized what was happening) and a woman's voice asked me to participate in a poll, she then ask me something like "Do you believe the government is being reckless in their handling of health-care?" I said "no", and she said "thanks", and hung up.

It's my understanding that a push poll usually has only one question, and the intention is not to get the called person's opinion, but to plant an idea in the person's head; in this case that the new health-care legislation is reckless and will jeopardize my health insurance. Probably the most famous push poll was right before the SC primary in 2000, when a "pollster" called people all over So. Carolina and asked if they knew that John McCain had fathered a black child. G. W. Bush's win in that primary is attributed to that push poll.

By comparison, this one question poll was pretty darn subtle and obviously some people are still trying to screw up health care legislation every way they can, but this conservative win-at-all-costs attitude is enabling the lunatic fringe. The resulting tumult is building some very scary momentum. Booths are set outside town hall meetings offering info that perpetuates the lies about death panels, euthanasia, ruination of medicare, etc. Signs depict Obama as Hitler, accuse him of taking not just their health care, but their religion, their guns, their money and their civil rights. People are screaming in the meetings and carrying guns outside.

We have healthcare execs financing disinformation to protect their multi-billion dollar profits, conservative politicians gleefully egging them on because they think of a failure of the plan as a personal victory, pundits spewing lies and hate to feed their own huge egos and show ratings and the victims of these puppet-master wannabees are frightened, frustrated, misinformed people who are on the verge of blind rage and could become homicidally violent at any moment.

There is a point where manipulating political facts for personal ends turns to inciting riots and conspiring to commit murder and I hope we're not as close to that point as it appears. Not that any of those doing the pot-stirring would admit any guilt, but I'd like to know how many murders and injuries do they think a political victory is worth? Also, if the victims arrive at the hospital without health insurance as a result of their machinations, is that a victory too?

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