Monday, October 19, 2009

We need a second Obama election night - for health care

We need the giant crowds that won Obama his presidency. Today our goal is not electing a person, but passing a law that will give us the first crucial step towards ending the deaths caused by lack of health insurance. There are many words we could use to describe the private industry's incentive to deny care: greed, responsible business management, pragmatism, necessary rationing, need to pay overhead, heartlessness, sincere belief in free markets. But whatever word we choose to call it, the result is the same. For lack of money, people will be left to die.

In our conversations with our doctors, we are often told how much we need to take personal responsibility for our health. But if we don't have the money, we can't do that. This lack of money does not change the medically necessity of doing what we need to do, as individuals, for our health. But the fact remains: we can't do anything without money.

What do we do? Some people answer that we should "stop whining and get a job", and sometimes these same people know that means getting a second job. And they still say "get a job" with the same unshaken self-assurance. It's the "real world" they say, and no one owes you anything.

So those who don't get that second job, don't get the money, and they or their families die. The self-assured advisors will say this death is "their fault". They should have "grown up and gotten a job". Oh well.

This view is not held just by insurance company CEOs and employees. Lots of people, including middle-class workers, share this view. Some of them are at town halls screaming calling Obama a Nazi. But many others were too tired to go and simply speak their views when they are around like-minded others, who eventually vote and elect Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats who share their views, but choose kinder-sounding ways of saying them...or perhaps hide them entorely behind claims of pragmatism and "how the real world works, or maybe "bipartisanship".

This might explain why I saw fit to attribute non-greed motives in the list of words I used above in describing health insurance executives. Because maybe their not only greedy jerks that want to profit on death. Maybe their just serving the values of their customers, which include thousands of people - in and outside the South, at and not at town halls - who have the "just grow up and get a job" mentality that I described above. I have heard the idea that Blue Dogs were elected by a different constuency. Maybe it includes these people I described.

The question is, what to do the rest of us who don't share this worldview plan to do about this? The election of Obama was not just about his campaign team. It was about the millions of us who got involved when we normally would not. We donated money, and when we didn't have money, we donated a smaller amount, and asked our friends to donate more for us. Or we donated time. We hooked up with the local Obama volunteer group and knocked on doors, did phone calls, got petitions, etc - whatever our group chose to do. We didn't need to spend money to go to Washington. We went to our local organizations - or local U.S. Senators offices - and made our work and voices known there. Clearly the people on the other side are doing all of these things. Why aren't WE at town halls?

I currently donate monthly to Save the Children, the ACLU, and the National Abortion Federation, because these things protect the health, well-being, and civil and human rights of children, women, and men. I have been donating to Save the Children and NAF for months now, with my graduate-student, unemployed budget managed fairly well for my needs. But I have little more to give in terms of money. So I'll look for ways to donate time. I'm hoping you will donate money (or time) where I cannot.

And we MUST have a public option. It is absolutely ridiculous and shameful that we feel the need to critcize Obama for choosing the name "public option" when we should be condemning our fellow citizens for having a neurotic fear about the phrase when the words "public" and "option" have NEVER scared any sane, non-brain-damaged person, much less a large percenatage of our society.

Maybe we should have called it "Medicare for All", or some psychologically-tested phrase that would have sat well with the American audience. But STOP WHINING America about a harmless phrase! "Public school", "optional", "Public library", "opt-out", etc. These phrases and their variants don't set off alarm bells. Why should "public option"?

How to get involved

Go to the upper-right corner ("Find your senators" search engine) of the U.S. Senate site to find your Senators contact info, and LOCAL office.

Go to the upper-left corner of the House site and do the same.

It's true that the Senate, not the House, that is threatening the public option. But not all of you have House Reps that are on board, and they need to hear from you. PLUS, while the public option IS indispensible, it is not the only important part of this bill. I have a wikipedia article that explains the most current changes with the bills and debate (look to the right, second box in column, "specific bills", and I have the text to the original bill, BUT I'm wondering how much has changed since I posted that text here.

It's big fight, and I think Democrats may be more to blame on this one. But in speaking our criticims, let's not forget our work.

What's on your to-do list? For ideas, check out my 15-option voting poll on Daily Kos, scroll down.

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