Tea Party Town Hall Strategy: “Rattle Them,” “Stand Up And Shout”

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As Rachel Slajda reported earlier this afternoon, there seems to be a growing incidence of members of Congress being shouted down at town hall events by tea party protestors. Those tactics will likely become much more common. As Think Progress first reported, one tea-party friendly group has disseminated a strategy memo for other anti-reform and anti-government groups, outlining what they consider best-practices for protesters who plan to enter and disrupt town hall events hosted by members of Congress over the August recess–practices that, according to the memo, “could be useful to activists in just about any district where their Congressperson has supported the socialist agenda of the Democrat leadership in Washington.”

The memo, authored by Robert MacGuffie, who runs the website rightprinciples.com, suggests that tea partiers should “pack the hall… spread out” to make their numbers seem more significant, and to “rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation…to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early…. to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda…stand up and shout and sit right back down.”

MacGuffie is a volunteer for FreedomWorks, the industry funded group that helps organize and support the tea party protests. But he denies that his small group has any direct affiliation with FreedomWorks. “We are recommending with that memo that other grassroots groups that share our view should go to the townhalls of their members and use the strategy that we did,” MacGuffie told me, confirming the memo’s authenticity. “We are trying to get into that town halls to make them understand that they do not have the unanimous support from people in their communities.”

If these tactics catch on, and August recess health care events are characterized by organized agit-prop, it could have a dramatic impact on the tenor of the health care debate, and the media coverage of the events this month. Buckle your seatbelts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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