Here in Austin, we had a rally about a month back that drew over 600. But since everything is bigger in Texas and this was our last chance to turn out a hometown crowd for Rep. Doggett, we had to show the strength of support for real reform here in Central Texas!
The event was organized by a broad coalition of groups: MoveOn, Organizing for America, Texans for Obama, our county and state party, the Gray Panthers, and Health Care For All Texans. We had folks traveling in from across the state, with strong contingents from Hays and Bastrop counties. Though the event didn't start until 3:00, we had lines around the block long before 2:00!
So many folks turned out that we not only filled First Methodist (capacity 1200), we packed the AFL-CIO down the street and another overflow room after that! Here's the crowds filing in to the extra space just in time to hear Rep. Doggett's speech:
There were plenty of speakers at the event, which was really more of an educational forum than a rally. Pastor Jim Rigby spoke about our ethical obligation to provide health care. Chris F., a veteran, spoke about how one third of vets in Texas lack health insurance, and many can't access the VA because they live in remote, rural areas. Brittany M., a college student, told her heartbreaking story of losing her mother to heart disease, and the medical debt of her parents she assumed after their passing. Every story made it clear time and again that our health insurance system is broken, and we need real reform.
Of course, one of our most fired-up speakers was none other than my most wonderful Congressperson, Lloyd Doggett. Our proud progressive Texan stood up for real reform, and said that these protests "have not weakened my commitment but only strengthened my resolve!" Rep. Doggett vowed to return to D.C. and push for the public option. His promise got the capacity crowd on its feet, cheering our lifelong ally for his latest efforts to stand up for what's right.
Most importantly, Rep. Doggett spoke about how hearing the stories of individuals made him want to work even harder for real reform. Have you told your story yet? Rep. Doggett also reminded us that it is our citizen engagement that will continue to move this issue forward. At the end of his speech, he was presented with over 4,000 pledges from Texans who support President Obama's three principles of health care reform.
Ginger, a volunteer with OFA here in Austin, presented the stack to Rep. Doggett and reiterated the importance of real reform to us regular folks in Texas. Ginger has collected more of these pledges than anyone, and she's an unsung hero to anyone who needs real insurance reform! Other all-star volunteers joined them on the dais in a show of support.
He certainly left us ready to go in Texas: our OFA organizers collected 800 more pledges and 500 volunteer shifts from those in attendance! Best of all, my fellow Texans and I are certainly excited to work even harder ourselves to make sure Congress passes strong health care reform, including a public option!
There are events organized all over the country where you can make like a Central Texan and stand up for real reform.
From Organizing for America to MoveOn, from Health Care For America Now to Town Hall events, there's so much going on.
There are over 2000 HCAN events scheduled! That means there must be something near you. If you can't make it out to a town hall, head out to one of these huge rallies and make sure you show the numbers are on our side! Click Here to search HCAN's website. Here are some upcoming events:
For a list of more specific upcoming events, check out my friend mindoca's diary listing tons more stuff going on.
No matter what, we can all take action at home with an LTE, and follow @OFAOnTheBus as they travel to rallies across the nation. Health insurance reform is too important not to stand up and be counted!
And if you're still unsure, remember the words of my Congressperson, on the way back to D.C. to rally votes for real reform:
"Your presence indicates that we are NOT going to back down!" -- Rep. Lloyd Doggett
Want to keep up with events like these? Please join our GoogleGroup Netroots for Healthcare.