Hey, Obama, the Anger's Not 'Manufactured' It's REAL

Confronted by the mass-uprising against the Democrats' plans to take over health care in the name of reform, the left-wing message machine has kicked into high gear..

Desperate to explain away enormous citizen responses to nearly every public appearance by a member of Congress in recent days, the Soros-backed Center for American Progress issued the new talking points on Friday.  Their claim:

Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, which orchestrated the anti-Obama tea parties earlier this year, are now pursuing an aggressive strategy to create an image of mass public opposition to health care and clean energy reform.

Within days, as usual, The New York Times, the White House, and the full constellation of so-called progressive interests were following their lead. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called it "manufactured anger," which is such delicious irony as he parrots the talking points from the Center for American Progress.

As one of the senior staff members at Americans for Prosperity, I'm flattered that the power to "manufacture" massive, widespread anger is attributed to us.  If we had that skill, I'm sure we would have won a few more fights in recent years.

The reality is people join our organization and other free market grassroots groups like FreedomWorks, the National Taxpayers Union, and RecessRally.com because they are angry about what's going on and they want to make a difference.  They tell us what's important and worth fighting for, not the other way around.  We just send them news about what's happening in Washington and let them know about opportunities to get involved in their areas.  We provide information.  They are already highly motivated.

On April 15th we saw more than a million people take to the street during the tea parties, a scale of action so broad that any claims of being artificially "manufactured" were on their face absurd.  All over the country people who normally go about their daily lives, worrying about work and family, are so fed up with the direction in Washington that they are getting politically involved for the first time in their lives.

One of our goals at Americans for Prosperity is to help them to be the most effective activists they can be.  We are trying to teach people who haven't been involved before that calling and writing to people other than their own representatives is counterproductive, because it clogs the lines and blocks real constituent calls from getting through.  We are telling people not to be disruptive or violent, to keep things civil and be sure their voices are heard.

That some situations have got out of control is unfortunate, and it is something we are working hard to stop.  The anger that is being seen at town hall meeting is far from manufactured.  It is genuine, heartfelt, deeply felt, and increasingly widespread.  Polling shows that the anger on display at town hall meeting is representative of the overall public: according to the latest Rasmussen Reports poll, the public is now opposed to the health care reform being debated in Congress by 49 percent to 47, which is close, but those who strongly oppose far outnumber those who strongly support the reform by 41 percent to just 25 percent.

Certainly, groups like Americans for Prosperity have a role to play in the protests we are seeing, and we're proud that we are helping people connect and getting them the information they need to be effective activists.  But it wouldn't be possible without the tens of thousands of real people who are giving up time from their lives and families to make a difference.  Our health care effort, joinpatientsfirst.com is supported by donations from thousands of patients across the country who are concerned about what a Washington takeover of health care means for them.  Members of Congress who follow the Center for American Progress talking points as an excuse to ignore real grassroots anger over health care may learn how real it is come election day 2010.

Mr. Kerpen is director of policy for Americans for Prosperity, which runs the health care web site www.JoinPatientsFirst.com.  He can be reached through www.philkerpen.com.