Don’t Retreat, Respond…Loudly
In the flurry of reactions to the GOP-led House bill undoing Obamacare, there have been a lot of words used to describe the American Health Care Act. Abomination is probably my favorite, if you can have a favorite way for describing legislation that penalizes women for their genitalia and threatens the healthcare of at least 24 million people. And while I know that a lot of people have newly gotten politically active by the inauguration of the Presidunce, I can’t help but think that if we had done more, this bill would have died just like the first GOP attempt to repeal Obamacare.
We need to up our game.
If you haven’t already read the predictive advice from MoveOn.Org’s Ben Wikler over Twitter, you should do it now.
The two biggest takeaways for me (and I hope for you as well) are the following: Stop talking about 2018 and focus on maximizing the immediate public backlash.
Talking about 2018 makes it seem like this is all just a game. Apparently for some Democrats, the ones who literally cheered as this disastrous vote came in, it is. Unfortunately for the rest of us, especially those who rely on healthcare to keep them alive, it isn’t. The sooner we stop acting like this is just the latest episode of America: The Reality Show and face the fact that people could literally die before the 2018 elections if this becomes law, the better.
What I’d rather focus on is the second takeaway, maximizing the immediate public backlash to this major House vote. To echo a bit of Wikler, I’d suggest making this bill so radioactive that no one in the Senate wants to touch it. And that needs to happen very quickly. Similarly, the House as a whole needs to feel so much pressure that regret over passing this legislation becomes overwhelming. There are plenty of ways to do this, so here are my suggestions. Some of these might be better for folks on the ground, while others could be done from friends and family in other areas. The goal, ultimately, should be for the bill to die. Short of Senate leadership publicly denouncing the bill and refusing to move it forward, all of these tactics should be used.
1. Keep jamming the phone lines- Every GOP member I called yesterday had a full mailbox or a busy signal when I tried to voice my concerns about this legislation. That can’t stop. The constant ringing of the phone lines is crucial to sending a stronger message of House members: we are STILL watching you. If you’re calling senators, it’s setting the bar for what they have to look forward to if they allow the bill to move in any meaningful way.
2. Demand Action at Town Halls- Similar to the first wave of town halls that left many elected officials looking like deer in headlights, the energy and audience in these spaces need to be overwhelming. Unfortunately, only 6 of the 217 House Republicans who voted for this are scheduled to hold town halls during the upcoming recess (I wonder why?). Regardless of party, every House representative needs to hear about how important this is. And if your rep is a Democrat, ask if they were one of the idiots who were chanting during the vote. Making light of any situation, let alone this one, should be embarrassing for any member of the so-called “opposition” party.
3. Set a Meeting with Your Representative- Recess is coming up, so they should be around for some period of time. A day shouldn’t go by where they are looking to get away without talking about their vote. Remind them every time you see them.
4. Protest and Rally Outside Your Representative’s Office- Based on the frustration people are already expressing, it’s unlikely your representative will want to meet with constituents (after all, look at how the town halls went). Don’t play by their rules. Make your own. Do you know family members who are in the 24 million? Do you have a pre-existing condition? Are you a woman? If your representative doesn’t want to own up to his/her vote, shame them in front of their district offices. Call the local press and make an event out of your representative’s cowardice. While there are plenty of ways to make the event fun (Where’s Waldo, Carmen San Diego references abound), the fact remains that this is a very serious issue. Depending on your area (and your comfort with civil disobedience), start an encampment. I imagine many members of Congress will be trying to hide out over the recess; don’t let them.
These are just a couple ideas from the past few hours. If you have suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments below!