August 10 2009, 12:43 PM
Over the weekend, Democratic U.S. Congressman Ed Perlmutter (pictured) appeared at a grocery store to talk about health care. He was greeted by angry protesters who likened any reforms that could include a government role in health care to socialism (via The Associated Press). On Friday, fellow Democratic Congressman Jared Polis was similarly "swarmed" at a local coffeeshop, reports Boulder's Daily Camera. Such incidents have been reported across the nation as conservative demonstrators attempt to shout down Democrats touting reform. Looking back on the noisy week, The New York Times traces various incarnations of citizen participation in the United States throughout the country's history. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois claims the activists are silencing people with "honest questions." "This is clearly being orchestrated and these folks have instructions," he remarked on CNN's "State of the Union." Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky denied the accusations on "FOX News Sunday," saying they are vague and that Democrats are trying to "demonize" the protesters. The activists' concerns (or talking points, depending on your perspective) center on a so-called public option, a non-profit that would be run by the government, setting rates and policies. U.S. Democratic Representative Diana DeGette, who represents Colorado's 1st Congressional District, tells 9News' "Your Show" that such a system would help drive down the cost of health care, while U.S. Republican Representative Mike Coffman of the state's 6th District fears it will lead to an entirely government-run system. Dana Perino, a former press secretary to President George W. Bush, points out that the strength of the Democrats' position on health care and other issues will be tested in next year's elections (via the Fort Collins Coloradoan). The impact could be felt even sooner, as Hendrik Hertzberg wrote in last week's New Yorker: "Obama's Presidency would survive the murder of health-care reform. But he would be greatly weakened, with dire consequences for his ability to meet many other urgent challenges." Meanwhile, Colorado's junior U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat, predicts that some form of health reform will pass this year but is unsure whether it will include a government-run option, which he personally supports, writes The Pueblo Chieftain.