Way too many times I've landed myself in rooms with lots of intellectuals who know everything there is to know about single-payer, improved and expanded Medicare for all for life and who are determined to share every bit of that knowledge over and over again. The audiences are often pretty much the same single-payer activists and advocates sprinkled with a new person or two. Often these audiences are predominantly white, older, and not hurting for money.
Again, there are sprinklings of others, but rarely do single-payer community forums, educational presentations or public events attract many of the people for whom single-payer reforms would do the most good.
For many people, learning more about health care reform sounds like just about as much fun as getting teeth pulled. For others, they've stopped trusting that anyone is really telling the truth about health care reform. And for an even larger number of people, life's daily pressures -- including working to hang on to health benefits and pay household bills -- is the absolute priority. Dabbling in any political advocacy is something left to students and other young people, the wealthy who don't have to worry about earning a living at a regular job, and retired people with time to spend volunteering and life-longexperience with the dysfunctional health care system. Then there are also the substantial number of progressive intellectuals who populate the movement for single-payer and other movements where they can wield their mighty minds for all to see.
Ever listen to the late William F. Buckley, Jr., speak for long periods of time? The drone of his uber-intellectualism was certainly filled with facts we might all have needed to know, but I often feel a similar pallor wash over my brain when the uber-smart of single-payerdom begin their soliloquies.
I am often no match for their brain power or even for the fierce passion intellectuals can show for promoting their positions. But sadly what I also see is way too many of these very intelligent people showing that they are more determined to be the smartest person arguing for single-payer than they are to win the issue. It looks like many people need the personal win more than they need the real policy progress. Have you ever seen someone sell a product or service and then be unable to shut up and close the deal? I think we've all seen that happen in various settings in life. And many progressives want to over-prove their positions. Intellectualizing those issues has its time and place but can also turn off large numbers of people who might otherwise be allies.
So, how do we turn the movement for single-payer into one that truly reflects and promotes the needs of the widest number of people? We might start by really engaging as leaders of our movement the people most injured by the market-based, profit-driven, dysfunctional system. That was happening a bit as patients and caregivers were used as props during the debates about the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare. But being used as a prop for a politician's or group's policy agenda isn't the optimal way to engage the health care system refugees. Far better to allow us to tell our stories, recover our dignity and begin to lead the movement forward with the kind of wisdom that comes from authenticity and clarity of purpose. Many of us are plenty smart, by the way.
In Colorado alone, after Obamacare's exchange is up and running, as estimated 400,000 people will remain uninsured and hundreds of thousands more will be under-insured. These people will not be from among the poorest of the poor or the wealthy classes. It will be more working class people who continue to suffer for appropriate health care. Access to health insurance is not the same as access to health care. Large deductible, co-pays and out of pocket expenses will make many people unable to use the health coverage they must purchase to be compliant with the law. I know that's the case for me right now. $875/month for my Aetna coverage, and I cannot go get the care I need as a cancer patient. Talk about a broken system.
We need the facts and all the data. We need the people who have built this movement and kept it alive for decades. But what we really must find is the courage to bust out of the "way-we-have-always-done-things" mentality to include those people whose presentations may not be as polished or professional but who can teach us all with their honest accounting of the realities for working class people as spoken, recorded and documented by working class people. The intellectual class needs to stop looking down its nose at the working class and stop speaking for us. Our voices are as valuable as anyone's. But our voices won't be heard if silenced by those in the single-payer movement who want to see themselves as the more capable saviors just because they have the societal, financial, and intellectual standing to do so. Many working class people might rather suffer the cruelties of the greedy system we already understand than be crushed by hypocrites who pretend they give a damn.
Link to original article from Common Dreams
Donna Smith is best known as one of the documentary subjects of Michael Moore’s 2007 movie, "SiCKO." Her journalism career includes 15 regional awards from the AP Managing Editors. Donna now works as executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation, and co-chairs the Progressive Democrats of America’s national "Healthcare Not Warfare" campaign.
Washington, DC -- Representatives from several organizations will gather at 11:30 am on Wednesday, September 17 at the House Triangle to respond to the President's plan to bomb Iraq and Syria. Speakers include Andrea Miller of Progressive Democrats of America, Stephen Miles of the coalition Win Without War, Ret. Colonel Ann Wright of Veterans for Peace, Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, and Alli McCracken of the youth group No Future in War.
Washington, D.C.–Today, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) sent Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) a letter urging him to create a Select Committee on Income Inequality instead of spending as much as 3.3 million tax dollars on another investigation into Benghazi. An analysisfrom Think Progress shows the Republican-led House of Representatives is on track to spend more investigating Benghazi than it does on nine other House committees.
MINNEAPOLIS—Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement today after Israeli and Hamas officials announced they had agreed to an open-ended ceasefire.
“I am happy and relieved with yesterday’s ceasefire agreement,” Rep. Ellison said. “I call on all parties to comply with the agreement and refrain from further violence. It is time to move forward with negotiations and diplomacy that will ultimately end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
GAZA CITY — Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday reached a long-term cease-fire after seven weeks of fighting, according to officials on both sides, halting the longest, bloodiest battle either side has experienced in years — but without resolving many of the bigger issues underlying the conflict.
When Congress returns from recess on September 8, will they authorize the New Iraq War? That's the question some anti-war groups are asking their representatives now home in their districts. Rep. Jim McGovern is demanding "a full debate and a vote whether to authorize the war," which has been escalating during the Congressional absence.
It is not a lack of sympathy with the historic and current circumstance of Iraq’s religious minorities—or of other persecuted peoples in that traumatized country—that leads some of the most humane and responsible members of Congress to say that President Obama must seek approval from the House and Senate before committing the United States military to a new Iraq mission.
PDA (Progressive Democrats of America) shares the horror of the world at the slaughter of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza. We condemn violence against civilians by all sides.
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) strongly endorses the statement of our Advisory Board Member Congresswoman Barbara Lee who expressed grave concerns about the "violence and loss of life in Israel and Gaza." We agree with Rep. Lee that, "this horrific violence does nothing to enhance the security of Israelis or Palestinians," and we join her calling for a diplomatic solution to ensure lasting security." Rep. Lee once again is the voice of reason saying, "We need strong diplomatic intervention by the US and regional partners to help establish an immediate ceasefire that allows for the negotiations of a permanent and peaceful settlement."
Furthermore, we endorse our Advisory Board Member Congressman Keith Ellison's demand that Israel and Egypt end the Gaza blockade to achieve peace.
PDAers have, with the rest of the world, reacted with outrage and heartbreak to the violence in Israel and Gaza. Board members like Medea Benjamin have worked for decades to bring attention to that area of the world, to its crying need for peace with justice. PDA was founded during the 2004 Democratic Convention in opposition to the Iraq War, which was being silenced by “official” party leaders. Our Inside/Outside strategy brought street heat to the suites, opening up our political process to the nonviolent call of Dr. Martin Luther King: turn from perpetual war to meeting human need. Nonviolence grounds all our policy advocacy: Healthcare Not Warfare; Windmills Not Weapons.
Washington DC – Today, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan McGovern-Jones-Lee resolution which requires the President to seek Congressional authorization before deploying armed services engaged in combat operations in Iraq.
The stunning military advance into cities in northern and central Iraq by an Al Qaeda offshoot, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—backed by some of Iraq's Sunni tribal paramilitary forces and a militia tied to remnants of the deposed Baath party—compounds Iraq's long-running tragedy.
According to Ha'aretz correspondent Amira Hass, the [Israeli Defense Force] ] IDF has been conducting mass arrests in the West Bank, between 10 and 30 every day. Twenty-four of the arrested are members of the Palestinian parliament from Hamas' Change and Reform party. The number of those arrested since the kidnapping and murder of the Israeli teens has already exceeded 1,000. The Palestinians are convinced that most of those detained have nothing to do with the kidnapping and that these are mainly political arrests for purposes of intimidation and revenge.
PDA Advisory Board members Reps. John Conyers, Keith Ellison, and Barbara Lee joined 3 congressional colleagues--Reps. Jim Moran, Hank Johnson, and Alan Lowenthal--calling upon President Obama and Secretary Kerry to "redouble" their efforts to urge Israeli and Palestinian leaders to reach a cease-fire agreement. The full text of their letter is below, and a signed PDF can be found here.
80 Members of Congress Write to the President on Iraq
Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA13), Congressman Scott Rigell (R-VA02) and seventy other Members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama calling on him to seek Congressional approval before taking any military action in Iraq.
Please act now! We need your Congress member's signature on the Lee-Rigell Letter opposing a military attack on Iraq. Consult the list (see below). If your member of Congress is not there, call the Congressional switchboard ASAP (before Close of Business July, 2nd) and ask them to sign on to the Lee-Rigell Letter. Republicans may be willing to sign on, so it's worth trying them as well. The Switchboard number is 202-224-3121. Tell them to contact Rep. Barbara Lee's staffer Monica Pham at
At this writing, President Obama has neither the legal nor the political mandate to conduct airstrikes in Iraq or Syria.
On Thursday night, 182 Members of the House voted yes on Representative Barbara Lee's amendment defunding the use of the 2002 Iraq Authorization for the Use Military Force.
Members of Congress want to send a clear message to Obama: They won’t stand for another war.
After a recent string of insurgent attacks from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the northern part of Iraq, President Obama told Congress on Monday night that he will order 275 troops to the country to protect American personnel and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
Residents of Mosul and Samarra, and a spokesman for a militant group, speak about their experience of the latest conflict
Why is Congress trying to allocate $601 billion to the military?
Next week, Congress will begin debate on a roughly$601 billion Pentagon budget for FY2015. Before we let this pass unchallenged, let's take a few minutes to put it in some historical perspective.
During the Bush years, people all over the world were horrified by America's aggression, human rights abuses and militarism. By 2008, only one in three people around the world approved of the job performance of U.S. leaders. The election of President Obama broadcast his message of hope and change far beyond U.S. shores, and Gallup's 2009 U.S.-Global Leadership Project (USGLP) recorded a sharp rise in global public approval of U.S. leadership to 49 percent.
U.S. efforts to overthrow foreign governments leave the world less peaceful, less just and less hopeful.
Soon after the 2004 U.S. coup to depose President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, I heard Aristide's lawyer Ira Kurzban speaking in Miami. He began his talk with a riddle: "Why has there never been a coup in Washington D.C.?" The answer: "Because there is no U.S. Embassy in Washington D.C." This introduction was greeted with wild applause by a mostly Haitian-American audience who understood it only too well.
Or How the U.S. Military Avoided Budget Cuts, Lied About Doing So, Then Asked for Billions More
Washington is pushing the panic button, claiming austerity is hollowing out our armed forces and our national security is at risk. That was the message Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel delivered last week when he announced that the Army would shrink to levels not seen since before World War II.
Washington is pushing the panic button, claiming austerity is hollowing out our armed forces and our national security is at risk. That was the message Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel delivered last week when he announced that the Army would shrink to levels not seen since before World War II. Headlines about this crisis followed in papers like the New York Timesand members of Congress issued statements swearing that they would never allow our security to be held hostage to the budget-cutting process.
The U.S. is backing Ukraine's extreme right-wing Svoboda party and violent neo-Nazis whose armed uprising paved the way for a Western-backed coup. Events in the Ukraine are giving us another glimpse through the looking-glass of U.S. propaganda wars against fascism, drugs and terrorism. The ugly reality behind the mirror is that the U.S. government has a long and unbroken record of working with fascists, dictators, druglords and state sponsors of terrorism in every region of the world in its elusive but relentless quest for unchallenged global power.
America's military adventures have fueled a global explosion of terrorism and a historic breakdown of law and order.
Twelve years into America's "war on terror," it is time to admit that it has failed catastrophically, unleashing violence, war and instability in an "arc of terror" stretching from West Africa to the Himalayas and beyond.
The implementation of the Iran accord Monday signaled a modest but still important sea change in that country’s relationship with the world. As with all good diplomacy, the deal is a win-win for Iran and the United Nations Security Council’s permanent members.
MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) — The United Nations is taking a day to see if there is enough common ground between Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and the opposition to talk directly for the first time since the rebellion began in 2011.
The talks in Syria began today, with the Syrian government and opposition exchanging accusations and invectives. Missing was the voice of nonviolent civilians, especially women, even through they have been trying for months to have a seat at the table.
At least ten states will be sites for testing drones — unmanned aircraft — in the next couple of years, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) announced on Monday. Six institutions have been authorized to operate test locations for the use of drones and for studying how they will interact with air traffic systems.
As we end the longest period of war in our history, we should be entering a period of postwar downsizing - but what about the communities dependent on the massive post-9/11 military budget?
End wars. Shrink the Pentagon budget. Reinvest the savings in neglected domestic priorities. It’s a logical progression. Right?
Washington, D.C.— Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement on the passing of former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela:
Iraq is still suffering from the US invasion because the apparatus of state oppression and terror is still in place, killing people every day. But few in the US seem to realize the scale of the war crimes committed in Iraq, an expert author told RT.
Having the most expensive and destructive military does not make the American people safer. The idea of U.S. "national security" seems inextricably entangled with the notion of "military supremacy."
All of a sudden we’re talking to Iran. Now, granted, that shouldn’t be such an astonishing bombshell. But given the reality of the last several decades, it pretty much is. And that’s all good. It’s been too long coming, it’s still too hesitant, there’s still too much hinting about military force behind it… but we’re talking. Foreign minister to foreign minister, Kerry to Zarif, it’s all a good sign.
A trillion dollars. It's a lot of money. In a year it could send 127 million college students to school, provide health insurance for 206 million people, or pay the salaries of seven million schoolteachers and seven million police officers.
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On Friday, September 12th more than 150 activists will go to DC and Demand that their Senators and Representatives support removing the ratification deadline from the ERA (SJ Res 15 and HJ Res 113)
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Public Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority
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CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab
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