Republicans succeed in creating chaos

Although the Internet has provided society with innumerable benefits and advancements, most notably StumbleUpon and Reddit, it has also completely changed American politics, from the highest offices to the average citizens. Information is gathered, views are developed, and action is taken through the Internet, and no longer just through major, professional journalistic enterprises. Blogs. Forums. Facebook and Twitter. All these sites, large and small, important and obscure, Democrat and Republican and everything in between, have built up an incomprehensibly massive establishment, a worldwide town hall meeting of news, opinions, facts, fiction, satire, and more, all with one goal: to be heard and understood by the American people as a whole. The first real test of this new establishment came beginning in summer 2009 and recently reached its likely crest on the weekend of March 19-22. Health care reform is truly the first Internet War, a political, social, and even economic conflict fought almost entirely in the media. The focal point of the war was legislation that ended up being passed on March 21 with radically different content than its original intent. Democrats, who can be viewed as the stronger power, the side with the larger army and mandate of the people, wanted a bill that would establish universal health care, a government-funded and regulated system analogous to those in place in nearly every other developed country in the world, in order to do away with the profit-centered health insurance industry and ensure proper care for all Americans. (This is a rather lengthy sentence; break it up a bit) Republicans, the recently humiliated, languishing party, opposed this, based on their ideals of a smaller government, but also simply because it would have been a large victory for Democrats, accomplishing reform in one year on the scale that the GOP had not been able to in eight years’ time. In order to deliver on his campaign promises of bipartisanship (or nonpartisanship, which I know I’m not alone in wanting to see) and hearing the people’s voice, President Barack Obama had legislators go back to their constituencies and hold town hall meetings to discuss the health care issue with the citizens they represented. With the whole world online, it was indeed refreshing and reassuring to have that face-to-face input. However, the Republicans, in a flash of brilliance, used these meetings to begin a sort of guerrilla campaign that would eventually fully utilize the thick cacophony and haze of the new media establishment to their favor, and set themselves on a path towards victory. The GOP, not just in matters of official policy and plans but also unofficially in the media, continued to use the fear they found beneficial to them in the town hall meetings. Threats of socialism and death panels continued to be sprouted by both politicians and talking heads throughout the fall and winter, even after Senate Democratic leaders removed the public option, reduced the size of the bill’s coverage, and eventually added every single reform- -over 200–on a list given to them by the Republican senators, who still opposed the bill, one and all. Seeing that Republicans would not budge on their absolute opposition to any achievements being made by the Democratic-led Congress, the Dem leaders pushed through a Senate bill shortly after Christmas. All of this was tightly scrutinized and constantly analyzed by the cable news channels and political blogs ad nauseam , despite the actual bill getting progressively less progressive. The rise of the "Tea Party" (which I refuse to write without quotes as I find it such a farce to not deserve the title referring to an actual rebellion) around the same time was not a coincidence. This is a reaction by conservative, usually uninformed Americans who are scared of "change," of any kind, and want to feel comfortable with their government. Race is a part of this. The white anti-integration rallies of the ’50s often referred to integrators as "communists" and "socialists"; fear of what the government was doing drove those hateful mobs back in what seems like so long ago. If anything, this movement, which often turns anti-Muslim and, to a more radical extent, anti-Semitic, shows us that we have not advanced as much as we had hoped since the civil rights era. The Republican Party has taken advantage of this fear by adding to it. Those aforementioned threats of socialism and death panels were repeated by John McCain and Sarah Palin at rallies not because they were accurate, but because they captured exactly what makes people hate government: fear . When one sees that 75 percent of Fox News viewers in a poll last fall believed that the health care bill gave government control over when care to the elderly was stopped, known more viciously as death panels, one better understands their fear, and realizes how brilliant this misinformation campaign is. The Republicans won the health care issue, even if they lost the bill. They won because they caused a party with 60 Senate seats to stop everything in the name of "bipartisanship" they would never receive. They won because they got the bill they largely set the precedent for, one that helps health care companies and lacks a public option. They won because they took advantage of the lawless chaos of the Internet to make everything about the bill uncertain. They won because they inspired fear in the hearts of millions: fear of Democrats, fear of Obama, fear of government, fear of socialism–fear that could certainly drive them to the polls this November in support of the GOP.