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When the ACA provision that allowed the uninsured to receive insurance from government coordinated exchanges finally was on the verge of going into effect, the conservative think-tank FreedomWorks initiated a civil-disobedience campaign, of sorts. They tried to enlist masses of young people to reject the inexpensive and often government-subsidized insurance now available to them. But the Far Right needed a symbol that would make that rejection of the ACA not just visceral but newsworthy.
So Matt Kibbe, the CEO of FreedomWorks, came up with the idea that FreedomWorks should provide young people with “Obamacare cards” that they could then publicly burn in a public demonstration of their rejection of the new law.
But the gimmick never quite took off. Beyond the fact that it was incredibly contrived, it didn’t actually make any sense.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, draft-age Americans burned their draft cards in defiance of a war in Vietnam that they regarded as either unjust or unwarranted, or both. In short, they weren’t willing to sacrifice their lives for a cause that seemed already to have been a largely pointless waste of American lives. Regardless of what you may have thought of those who burned their draft cards, it was not a gesture without consequences. It was, in fact, a criminal act that the federal government took very seriously.
In contrast, Kibbe et al were encouraging a group that is one of the main beneficiaries of the ACA to reject it in order to serve a political agenda that had already proven incapable of derailing the full implementation of the law. So, those young people were being asked to risk their own already precarious financial solvency for the sake of a completely empty ideological gesture.
I don’t usually indulge in any sort of comment on a person’s appearance, but I feel compelled to highlight the irony that Kibbe, who described the ACA card burners as “the real change agents,” looks like a clone of Nixon’s chief of staff H.R. Haldeman.
Moreover, Kibbe, who earns $322,000 per year and has a very generous benefits package, admonished his young and generally under-employed ACA protesters to reject the law as a mechanism for “income redistribution.”
Well, now we have a new permutation of this Far-Right co-opting of an action long associated with progressivism.
In Connecticut and New York, new laws require that the owners of assault-style weapons register those weapons. And, you guessed it, the Gun Lobby is trying to organize public demonstrations against the laws at which gun owners burn the registration forms.
Although these are actual registration forms, and not complete fabrications like the ACA cards, there is, again, no liability whatsoever in burning them. There are, undoubtedly, digital printable copies to be had at any number of Internet sites.
And, again, like FreedomWorks, the Gun Lobby is not going to have to pay the fines when the owners of those weapons face any charges for not registering them. Worse for the gun owner, one assumes that if an unregistered weapon of that kind is stolen and then used in a crime, the original owner will face additional civil and even criminal liabilities.
Since no one is talking about seizing anyone’s legally purchased guns or even restricting the legal purchase of such weapons, I just don’t think that most people are going to see the registration of the weapons as a serious imposition on anyone’s rights, or even their time. Most people who don’t own guns will find at least some thin reassurance in the fact that someone in law enforcement knows who has such weapons, and I am certain that a sizable percentage of gun owners will also see the sense in this very modest measure to enhance public safety.
In any case, one is compelled to wonder: Has the Far Right become so incoherent that gun owners are not just willingly but assertively associating themselves with the draft protesters of the 1960s?
Oh, that’s right, I forgot, gun-idiot Ted Nugent was a self-proclaimed draft-dodger.
The first post in this series is available at: http://academeblog.org/2013/08/14/far-right-rhetorical-co-opt-item-1/