In the thirties, when Americans fought for labor rights, there were bullyboys, thugs, stoolies and finks. Henry Ford had the lavatories bugged and operated his own police force with scads of informers on his payroll. These people attended union meetings and gave the bosses the names of all those active in the union.
When needed, these toughs would come out to the picket line and start trouble. If they could start a fight then maybe the cops could haul everyone in and break the picket line. That is how my grandfather got his head split open, thugs trying to break a legal picket line while the cops assisted them.
It is important, however, that we view these new rabble rousers like we would the first dry leaf of fall. They are a sign of what is coming down the road and a sign of how serious the Republican party and their clients, the healthcare industry, are about derailing all of this.
In early union halls members would stand up to propose a motion of support for whatever was on the agenda and then a plant would stand ostensibly to agree, and then add while we are at it how about a motion of support for the Communist party! Which would be met by shouts and jeers and maybe the guy would be thrown out of the meeting. If he was thrown out the local headline would read "Union Meeting Broken Up by Disagreement with Communist Hard-liner." If he wasn't thrown out the headline would read, "Union Hall Votes on Communist Resolution."
This is not new and it will continue and we on the left should be ashamed of ourselves for not doing it first. Not with thugs and bullyboys but with you and me showing up at town hall meetings and asking pointed questions of our Republican congresspeople and not letting them off the hook with easy answers.
This is first and foremost a media show about creating a ruckus for the benefit of the camera. The mainstream media will never be on our side, but the camera, despite their best efforts, will still sometimes show the truth. In October of 1967, 50,000 people rallied at the Lincoln Memorial and marched to the Pentagon against the war in Vietnam. No matter what the media said, the sight of 50,000 people said more.
In August of the following year, protesters disrupted the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. In what was later ruled a police riot, the protesters, through non-violence, prompted a violent reaction from the police. Hubert Humphrey's candidacy was toast and Mayor Daley was toast, as well, but it inadvertently gave Nixon the White House and the Vietnam War went on for four more years.
These are the cauldrons of revolution from where chain reactions start and know not where they will lead. Those who would try to intimidate you with a thought will quickly move to sticks and then guns. Those who can be intimidated by a mob of beer-gutted, Bible toting blue hairs need best to stay home. You're not needed.
Woody Allen once said, "In Hollywood, 50% of life is just showing up." In politics it is probably more like 70%. Those that will fight and stand their ground and not let themselves be intimidated by the fear something bad will happen will soon find out that something good will happen. Imagine the busloads of these charlatans met by two or three hundred lined up, arms crossed and steely-eyed in the parking lot.
Suddenly they remember prayer vigils they had promised to attend or maybe they forgot the question that they were going to ask and maybe their ringleader gets shouted down and they slink away. It is not pretty politics; it is practical politics. The middle class has never been given anything in this country without fighting for it. We are grossly outnumbered by ten of millions of dollars. They own the newspapers and the cable news networks. They can buy loyalty but that kind of loyalty can't stand a fat lip.