A man holds a sign directing people to an insurance company where they can sign up for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare in Miami, Fla in 2015.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty

At public events, Republicans hounded over anti-health care plans

When Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) recently snuck out the back of a library in order to steer clear of constituents who wanted to tell him not to take away their health insurance, it was an opening salvo in a broader campaign.

The Washington Post had this report out of California yesterday, for example.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), one of the relatively few members of Congress who has held public town hall meetings in 2017, was beset by protesters in the city of Roseville, Calif. More than 1,000 people gathered in front of a venue that could seat 200, and many of those who got inside protested McClintock, a conservative who represents one of the state’s few safe Republican seats, for favoring the president’s executive orders on refugees and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

According to social media reports from attendees, the event was raucous; according to video clips taken in its aftermath, McClintock left under police protection as critics, many organized by the local branch of the Indivisible activist organization, followed closely.
KCRA, the NBC affiliate in Sacramento, published some footage of the protests online (thanks to reader R.S. for the heads-up).

Remember, California may be a reliable “blue” state, but McClintock’s 4th congressional district is one of the state’s most Republican – its PVI is R+10 – and the congressman is a four-term incumbent who’s won each of his races easily.

And yet, now that progressive activism is on the rise, McClintock left his public event “under police protection,” followed by protesters who chanted, “Shame on you!”

There’s a lot of this going around. The NBC affiliate in Chicago had this report over the weekend:
Hundreds of people gathered in suburban Palatine to protest Rep. Peter Roskam on Saturday morning.  […]

Initially open to the public, the meeting was later closed because of high demand…. Saturday’s demonstration was coordinated by several organizations including the 6th District of Illinois - Holding Peter Roskam Accountable, and Action 6th District Illinois, both of which have several hundred members in Facebook groups…. Videos posted on social media showed protesters chanting things like “Talk to us” and “Hey Peter, we vote,” as well as “Shame on you” as Roskam appeared to leave the meeting.
There’s video of the Republican congressman exiting the event through the backdoor. The gathering came on the heels of a meeting Roskam was supposed to have with constituents, which the Republican cancelled because a reporter was present.

Whether this level of intensity can be maintained is unclear, but let’s not overlook the fact that it’s still early February. How many GOP lawmakers will agree to host public gatherings during the August recess given the cold receptions members have received in recent weeks?

Of course, the related question is whether Republicans will respond to protests by taking new steps to deter dissent.

Watch this space.