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While watching health care townhall meetings with Arlen Specter, Claire McCaskill and President Obama today, I was struck by the fact that they seemed focused on calming down the people who are railing against health care reform (organized or not) and spent less time and effort assuring proponents of health care reform about a public plan and about the fact that the reform legislation would indeed address the fundamental problems with our corrupt system.

We are losing our grasp on the core message of health care reform in this country, and I believe that what we are seeing in the media makes it seem like there are more people in this country who are worried about so-called socialist programs and government control.  We know from polls that the truth of the matter is that most people in this country want everyone to have access to good health care and that they favor a public plan.

What is needed right now is to have massive, organized demonstrations that show clearly how many supporters of real reform there are in this country, and leaves no doubt in the minds of our Congress what needs to be done. We need to get out in the streets in great numbers and bring about real change.  We need to be the change.

Yes, President Obama needs to spend time dispelling the rumors that are rampant, courtesy of the right-wing fearmongers and special interest lobbies.  But at the same time, we need to show our Congress that we serious about real reform, about a public plan that provides real competition to insurance companies, that we are many and we are representative of the majority of the populus.  Knocking down the birther, deather and anti-HCR talking points is not enough.  We need to get out in the streets in great numbers and bring about real change.  We need to be the change.

Where Is The Sleeping Giant?

A woman in Lebanon today at Arlen Specter's townhall said that a sleeping giant had been awakened in response to the threat what she sees as socialized health care and too much government control.  While there may be some truth to that, her giant would look like a midget standing next to the giant that is awakening in opposition to the corruption, greed and utterly unjust system of health care in this country and in support true reform, a strong public plan that forces Big Health to reform, and in general, a right to decent health care for everyone in this country without bankrupting us, without causing our businesses to be unable to compete or even survive due to the outrageous gluttony of Big Health.

Where is this giant right now?  Why can't we see it?

"We Need More Protest to Make Reform Possible"

I have long felt that we are failing and being failed in this fight for justice in our health system. A new article in The Nation written by Peter Deier and titled We Need More Protest to Make Reform Possible inspired me to write this diary.  I urge you to read the entire article.

If Congress is not refocused on reining in the Big Health industries and insurance companies, we are going to get a very weak reform bill, and that will result in failure not only for citizens of this country, but also for the Obama administration.  We need to "make them do it".

FDR once met with a group of activists who sought his support for legislation. He listened to their arguments for some time and then said, "You've convinced me. Now go out and make me do it."

He understood that the more effectively people created a sense of urgency and crisis, the easier it would be for him to push for progressive legislation.

Where Are Our Leaders?  Why Are We So Poorly Organized?

We have a number of organizations who are well-funded and supposedly are out there representing our interests, organizing and supporting health care reform.  Where are they?  Why are they not organizing marches in Washington and/or all over the country?  

Why are we so poorly organized?

HCAN?  What are you doing with that forty million dollars?  

Via Jane:

I've written in the past about the weakness of the coalition model when it comes to progressive advocacy.  They are only as risk tolerant as their least risk-tolerant member, and they are generally good only at operating as bureaucracies -- they are just not structured to run in campaign mode.  The complete failure of HCAN to conduct the health care battle on behalf of those who should be fighting hardest is a case in point.

HCAN started out with $500,000 from each member of its 13 member steering committee members ($6.5 million), got $10 million from Atlantic Philanthropies, more from George Soros, and came out of the gate announcing that they had an "initial infusion" of $40 million  and would spend $25 million in paid media. (Almost none of which, by the way, went to advertising on blogs -- almost all HCAN ads were co-branded with partners and placed directly by those partners.  They kept Soros's and Gara Lamarche's money for themselves.)


HCAN and OFA, the two organizations that were tasked with conducting the ground battle, were well financed to engage in this battle by foundations, individual donors and every big liberal interest group in town.  That they were caught completely off guard is manifest.  It didn't take the Amazing Kreskin to suss out what was going to happen.

But there is an even bigger problem:


Davies, the North Carolina speech therapist, said she attended a recent organizational meeting but left "without any clear script or anything to do."

   Organizing for America "hasn't contacted me with a really clear mission," Davies said. "If they came to my door and said, 'Here are the 10 things we want you to do,' then I'd probably do it."

   One complication is that activists are being asked to sell an evolving plan; even Obama hasn't committed to details.

The teabaggers know what they stand for.  The White House, in its desire to take credit for whatever passes and call it a "win," has remained deliberately vague.   Nobody wants to walk into the right wing meat grinder with a bunch of crazies over an issue as passionate as health care when the only thing they're rallying around is a bunch of vague platitudes.

There's only one thing that can fight back against big lobbying money, and that is popular support.  The failure of the President and his support organizations to inspire and mobilize those who want to support health care reform well in advance of this moment is short sighted almost beyond belief.

Moveon?  Why are you not organizing larger events?  Netroots "A List" bloggers?  Where are you?  Has the newly found access to the White House caused you to fail to use your power and influence over a large group of progressives to organize?  SEIU?  Other unions?  Where's the public display and organization of marches?  You are failing us.

Where are our progressive leaders?  I am only seeing one group, Jane and Eve and Co. at FiredogLake Campaign Silo, organizing, doing real progressive work, and that's not enough.  We need more leaders to join them.  We need organized groups to join them.  

We need groups who have a megaphone and who know how to organize events to help.

BTW, did you know that Jane's initiative was targeted by Democratic members of Congress and that they persuaded a non-profit to yank funding from them with two days notice?  They're working really hard and they're doing good work.  They are one of the few groups you can really trust.  They need money.  If you can afford it, for FSM's sake, go give them some money tonight.

Markos?  Could you at least put the FDL Action Searchable Events Widget on DailyKos?

If these well-funded groups are not doing it for us, maybe we can organize and do it ourselves.  Personally, I'm still hoping they will step up and live up to their position as leaders.  Soon.  Like... yesterday.

Don't Lose Sight of the Real Fight

A few words on where our true "enemy" is:
This is a complicated issue and we're dealing with a number of different obstacles.  We've got the people in our own party who are bought and paid for.  We've got Republicans who are bought and paid for, and others who are ideologically opposed to  social programs and others who are just absolutely opposed to anything Pres. Obama does.  We've got assholish misguided people in the White House, like Rahm, who try to block our attempts at promoting real reform. We've got the right-wing radio and TV fearmongers.  But above all of these, we've got what I call "Big Health".  And they are no friend to any American, sans those in the ultra upper echelon.  In fact, they are, in the long run, probably no friend to that echelon either, or to themselves, because they are destroying this country, themselves and the proverbial golden goose.  We need to remember who the real "enemy" is.

And I'd like to remind my friends on both the left and the right that the powers-that-be are always trying to divide and conquer the American people by creating a fake democrat versus republican dichotomy. Don't fall for the old divide and conquer trick.The enemy is not the guy on the other side of the aisle. We all have to remember that the enemy is giant financial corporation, defense contractor or other powerful player trying to manipulate the system and subvert the rule of law.

Take a look at this Sick for Profit video by Brave New Films to help remember who the real "enemy" is.  It's only six minutes long and it is a must see.

Who were these people who forced the New Deal to be made in this nation?

They are us.  We are them.

In many cases, the instigators and organizers of the Depression-era protests were radicals who believed that New Deal reforms were a steppingstone to more dramatic change. Many of these radicals had been involved in activist causes for years; others were newly radicalized by the apparent collapse of the economic system and were recruited through issue groups. A self-conscious cadre of radicals helped lead groups as varied as the National Farmers Union; the Unemployment Councils, which engaged in eviction blockings and other militant actions in big cities; the Southern Tenant Farmers Union; and caucuses in workplaces, which laid the groundwork for industrial unions. They were joined by progressives and liberals--clergy, journalists, artists, tenants, workers, farmers, Jews, African-Americans, immigrants and others--who may not have shared the leaders' radical vision but who were willing to try something new and different to bring about change.

In FDR's time, the people rose up.

FDR's election stimulated protest because it offered the missing piece--hope to go with the anger. Americans pushed aside their fear and protested for change. The organizers, in turn, helped channel people's hopes into specific actions that had some likelihood of winning concrete victories.

Rahm Emmanuel may not want protests or ads against Democrats who obstruct reform legislation.  Obama may not want it either.  FDR didn't either.

But that is what is needed in order for us to be the change that we need.  Very often, the people are way ahead of our leaders in knowing the right direction.  This is one of those times.

FDR was initially ambivalent about protest and about radicals. For example, he wasn't happy about the pressure exerted by Upton Sinclair--the muckraking journalist, novelist and onetime Socialist--to endorse him after Sinclair shocked everyone by winning the Democratic Party nomination for governor of California in 1934 on a platform to "end poverty in California." But FDR understood that Sinclair's primary victory, and his impressive campaign and narrow loss in the runoff, helped change the nation's political climate and made his own success more likely, since he could be seen as more moderate.

Likewise, FDR wasn't enthusiastic about the mounting protests by farmers, workers, veterans, community groups and the advocates of the Townsend Plan (for old-age insurance), but he understood their utility.

Pressure and Pushing to the Left
Did you notice the part about how, using these groups, FDR could be seen as more moderate?  That is your role too.  This is not the time to moderate yourself or to fall in line.  It's the time to keep pushing to the left.  Rahm's and Obama's big mistakes right now are in trying to tamp down dissent from within the party, and trying to keep things calm.

We are not rising up.

We need to rise up and take control of our situations.  We are giving away our power.  Our response to our situation has been weak -- lame.  We are, right now, on the whole, an epic fail.  

We need to let Congress know that the party is over and the people are not going to stand for this anymore.  And we need to clear the path for bold action in Congress and the White House.

Like any successful politician, Obama is constantly evaluating the political climate and testing the nation's appetite for change. Like FDR, he will be bold when he thinks the political climate is ready for bold action. The unions, community organizing groups, netroots groups, environmental and gay rights groups need to create a climate that will make it easier for Obama and Congress to be bold. As FDR said, their job is to "go out and make me do it."

We need to start with massive demonstrations.

Now go ahead and make them do it.

Originally posted to joanneleon on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 07:17 PM PDT.


Do we need better organization, marches and demonstrations?

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Comment Preferences

    •  Good call to action (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joanneleon, polar bear, BlackQueen40

      I'm convinced that all of these groups and all of this money will hit the streets at some critical point and the nutjobs and the media will be overwhelmed with the show of force and the intensity of outrage behind the support for change, but yes, still waiting.

      Perhaps they are waiting for the other side to fully lay down their cards?

      •  Or perhaps they are being influenced by the (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jim P, lao hong han, BlackQueen40

        White House?

        I'm not sure.

        I do know that they were at the infamous "fucking stupid" meeting with Rahm:

        The organizations that are usually at the Common Purpose meeting include Rock the Vote, the unions, the LCCR, the Sierra Club, HCAN, Bob Creamer (Jan Schakowsky's husband) of Americans United for Change, CAP, Media Matters, MoveOn, Campaign for America's Future and numerous other groups that earn their seat at that particular table by not bucking the White House. (The notable exception is MoveOn, who bravely sent a letter to their members telling them to contact the White House and tell Obama to rein Rahm in on triggers. I'm going to guess THAT precipitated quite the phone call.)

    •  recommended and tipped (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joanneleon, polar bear, BlackQueen40

      But I'm not sure I agree with the main idea. Not sure I disagree, either.

      My hesitation comes from a notion I favor that things are as they are because "divide and rule" works. When the whole structure is collapsing, the best way for the termites to escape unnoticed is to have everyone else at each other's throats. If you have to spread lies and sow discord to get there, what better means than the mass media?

      This is a time-proven method. Hardly ever fails.

      I wonder: is this escalation of violent word and gesture partly conceived as a deliberate provocation? Ratcheting up the tensions hoping something (and bonus points if someone on the Left) snaps. And if it doesn't, that doesn't mean you can't make it appear so. All you need is one well-broadcast lie.

      So yes, demonstrations. But we have to guarantee our message gets delivered, not excuses for more panicked and false reporting. This can be done. Probably the best place to have mass demonstrations would be in front of the media locations. People don't do that for some reason.

      As to leaders: the web is so vast and tightly woven the only way we'll get leadership in Congress on our behalf, it seems, is to flat out buy it. (But let's not call it "buy" let's call it "speech." $3 million, for instance, is a compelling argument in any language, and for many politicians.)

      It's astounding though how the people's movements™ (and the big blog-sites -- despite Buddydharma's notable, noble, efforts) seem so uncoordinated, lacking a clear set of priorities. It's not that nothing is being done at all, but what's being done is so, so much less than what is so very desperately needed.


      Don't Mourn. Organize.

      Really fine diary, raising important things. Hope it stays up for a day or more.

      Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

      by Jim P on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 08:17:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am not a Spector supporter, but he was (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joanneleon, polar bear

      actually pretty darn good today, as were all our reps on the front line in the town hall meetings.
      Yes, I agree we need to organize. I must say though I got emails in the past week from O of A telling me of local events and giving details and I could print out a placard to bring. I didn't go because I was afraid of potential violence. Next time I think I will go! We all should, in groups that are peaceful but clear and just there.
      I also think we should send thank yous and "go get 'ums" to the senators and congressmen/women who are fighting for reform. Claire (bluedog) McCaskill was fantastic. They need to know we are all behind them.

      Watching today and seeing some of the other posts that are more postive today on dailykos, I feel much more optomistic about the chances of real healthcare reform happening.

      It will, and Obama will do it. But we ALL need to come together and help.

      I appreciate all the hard work that went into this post too!

      Health care for all now!

      by LA Person on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:09:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Specter held his own pretty well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        polar bear

        in some cases, in others he was really rattled.  It was a tough go for him.  I was watching the town hall as it was happening because MSNBC and CNN broke though and were showing it.  The clips look pretty good.  When you watch it in total, it's not as flattering to Specter.  But I give him credit for having the townhall and for letting people speak and holding his ground.

  •  Excellent diary (8+ / 0-)

    Netroots Nation is just around the corner. Representatives from a lot of these organizations will be there.

    Why not get them together to get demonstrations organized?

  •  What is the core message of health reform? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I mean, beyond just the "expand coverage" and "reduce cost"?

    It's a moving target, and with Obama cutting a deal with Big Pharma, it's changing every day.

  •  I don't know what I'm for... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zeke L, joanneleon, polar bear

    I can't stand the insurance companies.  UnitedHealthcare is POND SCUM.  I want to protest but for what?  Not, for what I've seen thus far out of Congress.  Obama is getting the blame so he might as well present HIS bill.  Right now he doesn't have a bill yet the wingnuts call it ObamaCare anyway!

    Obama sent me an e-mail requesting to go to my congressperson's office this week.  When?  I have a deadline Thursday morning.  Worked 10 hour days the last two.  Worked six hours on Sunday and maybe an all-nighter tomorrow.  Once I'm done I'll be exhausted.

    I want to march.  I live across the river.  I want to see Dr. Dean's town hall with my rep on the 25th in Reston.  I gave to FDL yesterday.  And to DFA last month.  But only because I believe that they'll use my money wisely.

    I do know one thing that I am FOR.  The end of the ignorance of the American people (on the right side of the aisle!)

    •  Since the movement is so amorphous (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tidalwave1, Jim P, polar bear

      I am hoping that there will be organization and demonstration for a strong public plan, (a "Medicare for all who want to buy it" type definition of the public plan) and against the Big Health industry.

      I want the public plan to be at the forefront of this movement because that's where it needs to be.  Without a viable public plan, this health care reform is not worth passing.

      •  plus i think they already gave up tieing anything (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        to Medicare rates.  The HHS Sec can negotiate rates.  As for Pharma, i guess we will see.  i hope we can still negotiate for better drug prices.

        •  Yes, that was a big mistake (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          denise b

          Using the Medicare model from top to bottom would be the best thing for the chances of success for a public plan.  It would save a lot of reinventing of the wheel and would be cheaper and faster to implement.

          I mean, we've got a functional public plan right now.  It's stupid to build a new one from scratch.

  •  no public option, no peace! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joanneleon, Jim P, polar bear

    i'm with you.

    kind of cheesed off that obama and congressional dems are now all talking about "insurance reform."  they even drilled this word in every other minute on the OFA telecon with axelrod tonight.

    and for the gajillionth time,

    i don't want insurance, I WANT HEALTHCARE!

    so i don't really care about fixing that industry.  just do enough that they can't cherry pick and dump everyone who's sick into the public option, then let them adapt or die.  (i prefer the latter.)

    l'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers

    by zeke L on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 07:49:53 PM PDT

    •  You should be cheesed off - (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joanneleon, polar bear

      No public option= no reform.
      No ability to negotiate drug prices = no reform.

      No reform means the wrong guys win the debate again.  Unacceptable.

      We all may have already lost the chance to reform health care if the debate is being framed around how much to concede to Big Pharma and the for-profit health insurers.

      Single Payer advocates, being polite and thoughtful and considerate and reasonable human beings are being drowned out at the town hall meetings and not allowed to be part of the public debate.

      Those who have reasonably determined what needs to be done through logic and truthful consideration must find their voices and must be uncharacteristically loud in order to be even heard much less considered in the debate.  This is truly a test of our form of government.  Failure will be truly awful.

  •  Visibility (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joanneleon, polar bear

    I think it's time for a simple visual symbol that will alert politicians and fellow citizens that there are a lot of us out there who are fighting for a better way.

    Maybe we could all agree that we are doing this for the people who are struggling right now, the least of us, and then figure out some cheap way to symbolize that position. If enough of us do it it will get attention, and I think all the politicians need to understand that there is going to be backlash if ordinary citizens do not see some benefit in the healthcare reform.

    •  Strongly agree on the visual symbol (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      polar bear

      I think that the large rallies during Obama's campaign provided just such a visual symbol.  We need to do that again.

      And yes, one of the the biggest reasons for the show of great numbers is to make our leaders see what half measures will lead to in terms of public response.

      But the emphasis is on the visual.  It's got to be big and it's got to be well covered by the media.

  •  The Daily Show is all over this problem tonight (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joanneleon, hatdog, Jim P, polar bear

    He just made it clear that the right is just screaming anything at all while the left is incoherent. These congress members aren't even on the same page.

    Your are correct and that was part of my message to the WHouse and to Reid. What am suppose to say? Without a public option and with an individual mandate with no corporate mandates, what am I to think?

    As long as we have a system based on employer provided health insurance then we need a resonable employer mandate to participate. As long as we have private for profit insurance then we need a non-profit public alternative. As long as people get sick then we as a people engaged in a democracy need to think of universal solutions to provide for their care. No one is an island.

    Good wishes that your health improves.

    •  I forgot to watch TDS tonight (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Donna Z, polar bear

      I must have been channeling Jon.  Well, I'm glad we were on the same wavelength.  I'm not alone.

      I don't know how I'm even going to be able to hold up through the demonstrations I'm promoting but I want us to get out there and I will be out there.  I'll bring a soccer mom folding nylon chair and a cane.  And I'll bring my boys to help.

      Thanks for your comment and your support.  I respect your opinion and am always glad to see your comments.

      •  i would do my best to get to a Washington march, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:


        •  I would too (0+ / 0-)

          but would be happy with regional marches too.  If there is a big march in DC, there should be well organized and coordinated regional demonstrations as well.

          And things like ribbons are a good idea too.

          I'm also a fan of the "Honk for xxxx" events.  Some people had "honk for impeachment" events in front of my Congressman's district office every Friday for some period of time.  Well, it didn't work for impeachment, but I'll bet the whole impeachment movement had an effect in other ways, such as the '08 election.

  •  thanks so much, joanneleon! moveon is doing some (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    stuff here.  we are circulating a petition to give to our Senator, but I don't know how many we will have to give him.  i'd love to do a candlelight vigil.

    a march in Washington would be the best, but so many folk are too broke to travel, and i guess it's late to organize something that big.  
    To tell you the truth, I'm wondering where the good organizing is, too.  Did we get caught off guard, thinking we didn't really have to worry, or what?  i was so glad to hear that Soros is helping, but i'd like to see some really smart ads come out, and in force!

    anyway, i totally agree, but i don't know how to do it, at all.

    i finally got some employment, so i have a little less free time, too.

  •  Oh god stop it everyone. One post above got it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Make sure everyone can get coverage.
    Make sure everyone can keep their coverage
    Make healthcare cheaper.

    The right is very concrete and clear and quite loud and obnoxious. We need to look concrete and clear and calm.

    I trust Obama to get this done in a way that will greatly improve healthcare until it is punted down and improved again. Just as civil rights has been a process of change, reorganization, change...

    Come on, lets support those senators and reps who are on the line getting SCREAMED at by nutjobs.

    I have been out collecting signatures for the above, and Obama is asking for public option. Get out and make it happen!

    Health care for all now!

    by LA Person on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:16:59 PM PDT

  •  Sorry, but you can see (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    by the lack of response to your diary that the computer has become to activism what internet porno is to sex. These people or not going to get off their collective asses when they can beat their political meat and never have to leave the house.

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. Mark Twain

    by Klick2con10ue on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 10:00:53 PM PDT

  •  I'm trying to make a stink over this. (2+ / 0-)

    I've been signing petitions for MoveOn for a few years, that's about it.  Then in July, I hosted a demonstration outside Senator Baucus's office, 30 people showed up, which is pretty good for a liberal cause in Kalispell Montana.  They asked me to be the council leader in Kalispell.  I agreed to do it.  Then a few days later, they told me there are no other council leaders in Montana, and the whole state is my turf.

    Montana is a big fucking state.

    I've been working my ass off for MoveOn to try to assemble a statewide protest.  I've secured grant money to bus people to Bozeman to protest Baucus's healthcare obstruction.  And for the life of me, I can NOT rouse leaders in other towns across the state.  I can't do it all by myself.  I DESPERATELY need somebody to step up to the plate in Missoula, somebody in Bozeman, and Billings and Great Falls and Helena.  Help me out here!  I'm at  Check out my plans in my diary and rec it.  Deadlines are flying toward me at the speed of light, and I need more people on the ground in Montana cities.  Even if you're in another state, I can get you call lists to help me find help.  I need it NOW.  I can put you to work immediately.  If we're going to get real change, we'll have to fight for it.

    And if the teabaggers win, they'll deserve it for wanting it more.  If you can live with that, do nothing.  If not, send me an email, I'll set you up so you can help out.

    The best way out is always through- Robert Frost

    by naturalamericancj on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 10:26:26 PM PDT

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