Approximately 70,000 right-wing protesters converged on Washington, D.C. over the weekend to protest government in general, especially president Obama’s health care reform package. The signs they carried offered a glimpse of the unrestrained id of the American right.
Some carried placards that read “Bury Obamacare with Kennedy.”
Signs denouncing imaginary death-panels and non-existent government-funded abortions were among the less extreme messages on display. Watering the liberty tree with blood was a popular theme. (Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with that slogan when he was arrested.)
Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks, the premiere sponsor of the march, exaggerated the turnout by a factor of thirty when he falsely attributed to ABC News the claim that 1.5 million people showed up. In fact ABC reported the DC Fire Department’s estimate of 60,000-70,000 marchers.
A crowd of 70,000 is still cause for concern, especially if its leaders have no compunctions about lying. Saturday’s march was the culmination of months of organizing by the same right-wing, corporate-funded institutions that steered disgruntled folks to shout down health care reformers at town halls: FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, Patients United, and their various offshoots.
Kibbe and his colleagues are trying to paint the march as a spontaneous grassroots movement, but as Adele Stan explains in AlterNet, the Tea Party/Town Hall/Taxpayer March phenomenon is the culmination of years of work by the institutional right. That explains the jumble of messages on display in Washington this weekend: healthcare/guns/taxes/abortion. FreedomWorks didn’t even try to impose message discipline because the cacophony is the message. The entire rag tag New Right coalition, forged in the sixties after the defeat of Barry Goldwater, has risen again.
[Photo by bosspop1, Creative Commons.]
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