The emails (and fund appeals) are flowing in. Those of us who've kept up a connection with the current iteration of the Obama campaign machine are being called to action in support of our President's healthcare reform. I think it is going to be a tough sell for the organizers. Some of the obstacles:
- At the meetings I've attended, many folks made it pretty clear that they are fans of single payer, government-run, healthcare reform, of doing away with insurance companies. Our guy took that option off the table before this round started and that remains disappointing.
- Congress has been muddling with this process for months, but we still don't know quite what is in it. That's a big problem; it's awfully hard to mobilize folks for something that seems nebulous.
- Moreover, whatever allegiance OFA inspires is in Obama, not in Congress. If anything, activists want their guy to pound some sense into dithering Washington hacks. But they aren't seeing him do that, on health reform, or anything.
- Because there's been so much process and so little substance, the other side has scored some hits. What will this thing cost? Will it chip away at existing healthcare coverage? This last one is ridiculously easy to sell to the public because gradual erosion is what almost everyone has experienced in dealing with the existing exploitative system.
- Obama activists don't fully believe this stuff, but nagging questions reduce their energy. After all, the President himself talks all the time about how we have to get health care costs under control. It's not hard to imagine that might mean cutting something we have that we like.
And yes -- I'll put in some time agitating for Obama-care, unless I think it has warped into something actively hurtful to access for most people. But this campaign is not a happy one; it is pure defense. If the right kills whatever half-assed healthcare "reform" we end up with, it will cripple many of the possibilities opened up by Obama's election and the hard won Democratic majorities in Congress.
But saying that is a far cry from the joy of last November. The prospect ahead is a long slog up a tough hill toward what may be a false summit, not a glad community dance.