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.
Congratulations Rhode Island! Rhode Island is the first state to have 100% of their Federal delegation supporting our legislation. A special thanks to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Jack Reed, Rep. David Cicilline and Rep. James Langevin. We appreciate your support.
Just a few weeks before his death, on October 11, 1963, President Kennedy received the final report of the President's Commission on the Status of Women. A direct line runs between the work of this commission and the establishment of the National Organization for Women.
If an Equal Rights Amendment were to pass, women would have the written support of the Constitution. Instead of women having to prove that they were being discriminated against, violators of the amendment would face a harsher reality, having to prove their innocence.
The benefits of ratifying the amendment are fairly simple. By passing the Equal Rights Amendment, the government would not only open doors of opportunity for women in the country, but also open them all around the world.
UPDATE: Linda Sanchez and Louise Roybal-Allard are now cosponsors of HJ Res 43. As Progressives we should all be outraged that of the 15 members of the Progressive Caucus from California, there are 5 (3) who have not co-sponsored Representative Rob Andrews legislation, HJ Res 43, removing the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Unacceptable. They are well aware of the legislation and we must alert them to this fact.
Targeting women’s right to vote may be the undoing of extreme governance and an opportunity to take care of constitutionally unfinished business for women – an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The newly declared war on the right of women in NC to vote looks to be the match to the fuse in the renewed push for passing an ERA.
A Major Victory for ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) advocates happened today as Senator Elizabeth Warren becomes the 32nd co-sponsor on Senator Ben Cardin’s bi-partisan bill, SJRES15 to remove the deadline to ratify the ERA.
In the spirit of Moral Mondays the Onslow County Democratic Party announced that this Monday’s demonstration on October 28th will focus on pushing back against the wave of legislation negatively impacting women’s rights to include the targeting of their voting rights. Demonstrators are civilly rallying from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm outside the Jacksonville City Hall at 815 New Bridge Street to support the passage of an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) checking state laws that are eroding women’s rights.
“Seems like old times,” was former ODP chair, David Leland’s comment when we exchanged greetings at the Statehouse, October 2nd. Indeed it did. About 1000 enthusiastic women and men showed up for a rally entitled, “We Won’t Go Back: Stand Strong with Ohio’s Women!”
Women earn less than men. Compared to white men, Latinas earn 59 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, black women earn 68 cents on the dollar, white women earn 81 cents on the dollar, and Asian women earn 88 cents on the dollar
The new push to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) continues to grow as word spreads about the effort to get the Obama Administration to take a stand on the issue of equal rights for women. The ERA 2013 Action Campaign and its partner, ERA NOW, seek to gather 25,000 signatures on an official White House petition to trigger an official response from the Obama Administration, now needs only 4600 signatures by February 9th.
Enter your zip+4 and find your elected officials. This link provides name, address and phone number
Click on your state in the list to find out if your Senators and Representative are cosponsors of the Equal Rights Amendment. Then call and either Thank Them or ask them to support the legislation.
Sample scripts are below.
Thank You ScriptI am a voter in your district and the Equal Rights Amendment is very important to me and all my friends. Thank you for supporting equal rights.
Request SupportI am a voter in your district and the Equal Rights Amendment is very important to me and all my friends. Equality is a human rights issue. The Equal Rights Amendment has been stalled and we believe removing the ratification deadline will most the process forward. Please cosponsor SJ Res 15 (for Senators) HJ Res 43 (for your Representative)
We need to add the Equal Rights Amendment to the National conversation. Use our tool to send a letter to the editor of your local paper.
If your Senator(s) and/or Representative is not currently a supporter, they may not be aware that the legislation exists. Nothing sends a stronger message to a Congressional member than a personal visit to a district office by a voter with a written request for support. Phone calls and emails are incredibly important but nothing gets attention like a personal visit. Our Educate Congress page has information and a sample letter. Print the letter, sign it, deliver it.
There is no faster way to send a message to your Congress members than using our Email Advocacy Tool.
With Congress about to begin the next cycle of budget battles – mostly focused on how much more pain to inflict on Main Street communities across America – a far different message is bubbling up across the land.
Simply put, the big idea behind the Robin Hood Tax is to generate hundreds of billions of dollars. That money could provide funding for jobs to kickstart the economy and get America back on its feet. It could help save the social safety net here and around the world. And it will come from fairer taxation of the financial sector.