Why Dems Are Losing the Health Care Fight

by flickr user indigo_belle used under the Creative Commons license


I was so stoked about Organizing for America’s Office Visit for Health Care Reform, I signed up for the first available appointment. Too bad it sucked. 

In case you somehow missed the email, Organizing for America—the vestigial remnants of President Obama’s massive net-roots organization—is SPAMing the flock to visit their senators during the August recess in support of health care reform. The plan is geniusly sticky and simple. You click the link, pick a time you’d like to visit, and print out a map to your senator’s local office, plus a two-page form to record your visit, and viola, CHANGE. It isn’t supposed to be a violently disruptive town-hall meeting, just a group of average, level-headed Americans putting democracy into action through basic civic engagement. Totally rad. Even better, tens of thousands of other people had already signed up to do the same thing, according to Organizing for America. The prospect had me genuinely excited, which is rare for me.  

In general, I do my best to avoid overt displays of political activism.  But health care reform was my one big issue, the one I was ready to man the trenches for. When I was eight, the day I was supposed to start 3rd grade, I was struck by a rare illness that left me paralyzed from the waist down. That was September 1994, the same month that President Clinton’s ambitious healthcare plan gasped it’s last breath and died, crushed by reactionary fearmongering, red-baiting, and corporate-sponsored insanity. I’m 23 now, and  the current debate feels like deja vu. 

 

 

Only this time, I’m one of the millions of Americans with no safety net. In a few months, I’ll lose the coverage my mother extended to me while I was in college. Because of my pre-existing condition, I’m either ineligible for or priced out of private insurance, but since I’m working I’m not eligible for Medicare either. Naturally, I’m interested in a public option. 

So too were the seven ageing hippies who showed up just before 9 a.m. at One Post Plaza, home of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s San Francisco offices, cluching their Organizing for America forms and hoping to speak to a policy expert.  After fifteen minutes or so, a flustered young aid named John appeared with a Steno pad and invited us all to step to the other side of the lobby where he collected our forms and repeated some talking points about how Feinstein supports a public option and is waiting to see what comes out of committee.  A few of us shared personal stories, as the form and the email had encouraged us to do, but the whole thing made me feel like an uninvited guest staying for tea. 

Compare this with the massive Astroturf machine the GOP has mobilized, and it’s clear why the right is winning this fight no-contest. Even as pro-reform volunteers canvass their neighbors and fill seats at town hall meetings around the country, the left’s leadership can’t get it together. And I had such high hopes. 

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate