Why I Risk Heat Stroke For Healthcare — A Texas Protester’s Story
It’s July in Texas. I’m not sure if those of you who are not from Texas understand just how hot it becomes at this time of year for people living in this state, but this kind of sweltering sweatfuckery is hard to for most non-Texans to comprehend unless you live it. To paint a picture — Just a few days ago, my friend said she woke up on the ground. She was outside working and passed out from the heat. Most people would go to the hospital after passing out like that — Not here and not most Texans. She just picked herself up off the ground, dusted off her jeans, drank a bottle of water, and got back to her yard work.
So yesterday, when I arrived at the location of the second pro-healthcare/anti-deathcare rally that I’ve attended in a week in Austin — in July — at the “Peak of Hell Fire” time of day — you probably can imagine that going out into this heat wasn’t my or anyone’s idea of a dream way to kick back after a long day of work. Yet, me and around two hundred “liberal snowflakes” like me grabbed our protest signs, bottles of water, and our bullhorns, and dragged our asses out to the sidewalks surrounding this posh hotel in northwest Austin where Cruz was set to speak that evening. Our purpose — To go and telepathically tell Ted Cruz that he was a piece of shit for the millionth time.
And wowee was it hot yesterday. Heat like this makes one tired, irritable, nauseous, listless, and more adjectives that describe misery. You get to a rally like this, see all the people, and shout the chants, “Kill the bill” and “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Ted Cruz has got to go” the first ten times with plenty of twangy gusto, but each minute the sun bores down, the words get a bit softer, a bit softer, until you feel your lips moving, but no sound is coming out. You start to wonder if just your mere presence is enough. Eventually your protest sign, with the message you spent hours contemplating in craft-mode in your air conditioned office that afternoon, no longer serves as a sign, but a shield that protects you from the torture of the closest star in our galaxy.
After about ninety minutes, you ask yourself — “Why am I here? Does any of this matter? Will any of this change Ted Cruz’s mind and make him a real human man?” You start to feel overcome with doubt and despair and then you take a second and look around.
You see people of all ages surrounding you. Many of these people are women — young and old. You see people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices to get around. You see people from all sorts of economic backgrounds. You see people with signs that discuss their form of cancer, which was treated thanks the Affordable Care Act. You see people who are obviously still sick and frail under trees, fanning themselves, hanging on for their lives. You see and hear people who are scared — who say they will die without Medicaid. You see people holding signs that say they are veterans and they feel betrayed by our politicians who have sold themselves out to corporations. You see people chanting with their hands using American Sign Language. You listen to thoughtful and intelligent commentary between the chants going on between strangers. You hear people with a sense of humor who try to make a few jokes to lighten this heavy mood. You hear and see one liberal snowflake after another liberal snowflake — And guess what? We aren’t melting. We are hot, but we will not melt.
We won’t melt because there’s a reason for all of this. People matter. Healthcare matters. Our lives and livelihoods have now morphed into budget line items, which are under threat to be crossed out by a man inside the air conditioned hotel holding the red pen. We are fighting for our lives and Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Greg Abbott, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, the G.O.P., cancer, disability, old age, PTSD, blindness, deafness, poorness, and worst of all — the Texas sun will not stop us.
The police are called by the hotel manager. We are getting too close to the large oak trees surrounding the hotel for shade. We need to get further away because we pose a threat. We with our wheelchairs, and our cancer scarves surrounding our scalps, and our orthopedic shoes, and our chants, need to stay out of Ted Cruz’s dark shadow. Ted Cruz is scared…Of Us.
And you know what? He should be.