Over the past few weeks, a number of Republicans have been on the receiving end of constituent outrage at town hall events — mainly due to the upcoming repeal of Obamacare. Other issues include Trump’s tax returns, his immigration policy, and Russia.
Chants of “do your job” aren’t uncommon, which roughly translates to “do your job the way we want regardless of what you campaigned upon.”
CNN notes that flooding town halls is a tactic “similar to [those used by] the tea party that roiled Democrats during the Obama years,” but this is hardly the grassroots activism that the tea party utilized. According to the Daily Caller:
Leaked audio from an anti-Trump protest group meeting reveals activists with anti-Trump group Indivisible plotting how to best manufacture a hostile environment at a town hall with Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana on Friday.
The audio, obtained by local radio station KPEL, reveals a coordinated effort to create the public impression that Cassidy’s support for Trump is unpopular with his constituents. The activists, who describe themselves as liberals in the audio, can be heard strategizing how to best turn a local town hall into a political victory.The activists split up into an “inside team” — tasked with occupying “as many seats as we can” and an “outside team,” whose job was to “give [the media] the coverage they want” before joining the others inside. Activists were instructed to dress like conservatives and leave at home “any signifier that you’re a liberal” in order to blend in with constituents.
The leftist activists strategized how best to “dominate” the question-and-answer section of the town hall and keep anyone “sympathetic” to Cassidy from asking a question.
Another group organizing protests at town halls across the country is named “Indivisible.” Newsmax reports it:
…[H]as obtained a 26-page manual, dated January 27, 2017, that spells out a course of action for enemies of President Donald Trump and what it calls his “attempt to use his congressional majority to reshape America in his own racist, authoritarian, and corrupt image.” Entitled “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda,” the manual spells out how to influence members of Congress who, in its words, “care more about getting re-elected than they care about any specific issue.”
A good portion of the manual spells out tactics for town hall meetings of Members of Congress — which are now clearly in operation, as one can see from news reports that have led to Republican lawmakers such as Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst and California Rep. Tom McClintock to cut short their meeting.
“Don’t give up the mic[rophone] until you’re satisfied with the answer,” town hall participants are advised, adding that staffers cannot take back a mic immediately “if you keep a firm hold on the mic. No staffer in their right mind wants to look like they’re physically intimidating a constituent, so they will back off.”
These are hardly the first (or last) liberal groups to be discovered pretending to portray “grassroots protests.” California Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu even had to admit as much on MSNBC after he tried to paint the protests as grassroots. “These are organic, grassroots protests you see from across the country. On January 21, there was that amazing Women’s March all over America. You’re seeing this huge reaction to the policies of Donald Trump. And it’s also showing up in the polling data. Over the weekend…” he said before being cut off by host Hallie Jackson. “But, Congressman, there are groups, though. I mean, you don’t deny that there are groups of more liberal activists who are helping to organize some of these protests at town halls,” she stated, to which he replied, “Well, yes, there are groups that are organizing people to show up at town halls, but these are people who are constituents of these members of Congress. That’s what people do. They show up at town halls and they give their voices to these members of Congress and you’re seeing this huge reaction to Donald Trump’s extreme and cruel policies.”
Well, that hardly sounds organic.
Ironically, part of the evidence proving these protests are organized has to do with how wildly disproportionate they are to specific Trump policies that the majority of the public actually favors (contrary to Lieu’s claims). Just take a look at the polling on Trump’s executive orders (according to a Politico and Morning Consult poll, published February 8th:
If these protesters really want their representatives to just “do their jobs” and “represent the people, not the party” — they won’t be getting what they want.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]