This post won’t be like the others in the series. Rather, this is a short celebration/reflection on our win last week. The GOP tried to push forward their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. It was a hasty move, driven by their desire to spite Obama, anchored in a dangerous plan that would rob millions of their health care. But something happened. First the vote was delayed from Thursday to Friday and then the bill was pulled because they knew they didn’t have the votes to get it passed. This is proof that all of our voices calling out (both liberal and conservative alike on this issue) and saying it wasn’t the right move were heard. When we struggle with our ability to bring about change, we need to remember this moment. We spoke out. We were heard. And it affected what happened. This is an important victory!!! This is why we need to stay informed and vocal. Power to the people!
For our music this week it seems fitting to go back to where the New American Resistance series got it’s name – Bruce Springsteen. So let’s give a listen to “We Ate Alive” as we celebrate our resistance’s first major victory!
So, so often – especially now – we wrestle with feelings of hopelessness. It seems like no matter what we say or do, corruption marches onwards. Since the Trump administration began, we’ve seen plenty of unsettling and unqualified people take cabinet positions. We’ve seen more and more evidence of Russia meddling with our election and a disturbing little amount of action on Congress’ part. It can begin to feel like our calls, emails, tweets, Facebook posts, and letters to our representatives are nothing more than shouting into the void. But when the GOP tried to force the AHCA, a plan that would have gutted coverage for millions of people, hurting the most vulnerable in our society, we came together and cried out that this wasn’t okay. As a result, the House Republicans pulled the bill on Friday and Paul Ryan declared, “Obamacare is the law of the land. It is going to remain the law of the land. We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”
It is so important to understand this didn’t happen because I called my representative repeatedly. It didn’t happen because you called your representative repeatedly. Rather it happened because thousands and thousands of people called their reps, driven by their own reasons, and said the AHCA wasn’t the right move for our country. It happened because of us. It can feel like our congressional representatives in the House and Senate do very little at times (and listen to us even less). But they like their jobs. So when millions of constituents across the country call their offices, again and again, to say repealing and replacing the ACA is a bad idea they eventually have to listen. Otherwise, they know a reckoning will come on election day. While it still may seem like it’s a long way off, the midterm elections are next year. So yes, our representatives will often ignore us in favor of party politics and special interests…until we become so loud that they can’t ignore us anymore.
It’s also important to note this bill was stopped as a result of bi-partisan opposition. People on the far left as well as the far right didn’t like the AHCA for their own reasons. Personally, I opposed the move to repeal and replace for very different reasons than the members of the Freedom Caucus did. This shouldn’t be overlooked. But neither can we dismiss the fact that regardless of the personal motivations to oppose the AHCA, we found a point of common ground. I was on my congressional representative’s Facebook page again last Wednesday (after I called his office again and had tweeted at him several more times too) and was posting about how I wanted him not to vote to repeal and replace when I saw a comment from a fellow constituent (who said he had proudly supported Trump from the beginning and still did) asking for the same thing. Yes, our personal reasons for opposing repealing and replacing the ACA with the AHCA were very, very different. But we still agreed in how we wanted Mike Kelly to vote!!! For the last few months it’s felt more and more like this was a thing of the past. But it isn’t! No matter what it may feel like compromise is still possible. If we forget this, there’s no way forward. We must dig in and refuse to be moved or swayed when we must and we need also eagerly embrace the points of compromise and discussion we can find.
So we should all take a moment to celebrate the fact that millions of people didn’t lose their health care coverage. We need to celebrate the fact that our democracy can still function as long as we have the will and the stamina to refuse to back down. We need to celebrate finding a point of common ground, no matter how small, in an age when that often feels increasingly hard if not outright impossible. And we need to celebrate the fact that we made a difference.
I also want to offer a sincere THANK YOU to everyone who called their reps about this, once or dozens of times. This was an important issue and health care is something that is very personal to me. Thank you, thank you. thank you from the bottom of my heart for adding your voice! It’s brought us to this moment.
In our celebration we must also remember, the fight goes on. After we’ve taken a few well deserved moments to congratulate ourselves, to celebrate our victory, we need to steel ourselves. Tomorrow is another day and injustice continues to crawl forward on all fronts. The EPA’s still in danger as is the Department of Education. We have a proposed budget devoid of compassion and common sense. Systemic sin continues to reign through racism, sexism, and punitive attitudes towards the poor to name but a few examples. The fight for equality and justice continues and we have to keep at it. Call your reps. Call them often. Make your voice heard. Together, we will continue the struggle for justice. We will continue to resist. And we will do so with the memory of this victory and the very real knowledge of our power to change things when we come together.
To close, here’s Bruce Springsteen’s “This Is Your Sword.” It’s a beautiful, soaring song reminding us the answer to the question of how and why we fight is the same – LOVE.