Democracy in Action
Yesterday’s Gallup poll finding that the town hall protests are having the desired effects of gaining sympathy for the protestors and increasing doubts about health care reform efforts is getting a lot of attention. Those results don’t surprise me, however. (They do surprise Mickey Kaus.)
What is interesting is this:
There is a fair degree of consensus among Democrats, independents, and Republicans about the “shouting down” behavior as described in the survey, with a clear majority of each partisan group saying that this represents an abuse of democracy.
Opinions are more divided on the other two behaviors. For both the “angry attacks” and “booing” behaviors, a majority of Democrats say they are abuses, while a majority of Republicans say they are democracy in action. In both instances, independents are more likely to side with the Republican than with the Democratic position.
The consensus strikes me as exactly right: shouting down supporters is an abuse of democracy whereas booing politicians is democracy in action. I’m actually stunned that an overwhelming majority of Democrats think booing a Congressman is an abuse of democracy! Expressing disapproval of one’s elected representatives is the very essence of the First Amendment.