Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Health care reform shorts:
Hope for health care reform?

democrats-drive-the-car!.jpg
Well, maybe. If I'm to judge by my email inbox, the Obama administration seems to have noticed that it will be catastrophic among it core supporters to appear to have given in to Republican (and Democratic) obstructionism. The President's proposed talkathon is an element of this, but there is more.

Over the last couple of days I've received four (!) emails from various parts of Organizing for America (OFA) urging me to swing into action. Just this morning from head honcho Mitch Stewart:

A few days ago, President Obama told a story about an OFA supporter in St. Louis who had volunteered during the campaign and organized her community for health reform, but recently succumbed to breast cancer. She didn't have quality insurance, so she put off crucial exams and didn't catch it early enough. And while she fought cancer, she also spent her final months fighting for a chance at health reform so others wouldn't go through the same thing.

The President told this story to remind Congress, the nation, and us: We can't tell her family we're giving up on reform because it's too hard, or too risky.

Okay, so what are we supposed to do? Visit the Action Center where I'm enabled to call my Congresscritters, email them, or write a letter to a dead tree paper. What am I supposed to say in these communications?

Many of our senators and representatives are working overtime to gather support for a final bill and pass reform, and they should know we're standing with them. And the rest need to understand their constituents still demand action.

Vague enough for you? Think that will goose the reluctant?

OFA is marginalized because it has failed to involve and educate its citizen base in both how Congress works and how the health reform might work. Without that kind of background -- background that would enable targeted communication that forced legislators to take notice of the rage in their home towns -- they might as well ask people to wave their hands in the air.

Yes, it would have been hard to do that citizen education work while operating as a subsidiary of the Democratic National Committee -- the DNC protects and acts on behalf of the Democrats we have, rather than the Democrats we need if we are to make progressive change. But to build on the bright promise implicit in the successes of the 2008 campaign, OFA needs the freedom to needle Democrats as much as knuckle-dragging Republicans. And the people it attracted need education in more sophisticated citizen action than simple voter mobilization. Citizen education is an organizing task that OFA should be good at, though it is neither dramatic nor cheap.

Probably can't happen. Too many Democrats in office fear an engaged citizenry. But OFA still deserves watching as desperately tottering politicians, something Obama is soon likely to be, sometimes move in unexpectedly audacious directions.

1 comment:

Darlene said...

My head is aching from thinking about this missed opportunity. I have called, written and begged my representatives to pass a good health care reform. I feel like I'm talking to the wall.

I think the Democrats need to find a dim witted 'hottie' like Sarah Palin to excite the public. If we had someone who could create the energy of the public and the news media speaking FOR reform, we might get the attention of those 'nay sayers' in Washington.

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