So about that healthcare bill…
Dozens of people were arrested after protesting outside Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Thursday – including some in wheelchairs – as Republicans unveiled Republicans unveiled Trumpcare 2.0 (or are we on 3.0 now?).
Activists from disability rights organization Adapt gathered outside McConnell’s office to demonstrate against the bill, which would dramatically cut Medicaid and strip funding from Planned Parenthood, to name just two measures.
Progressive organizations sprung into action to try to defeat it.
Our Revolution set up a page on its website urging people to “take action to stop AHCA [the Senate bill is called the Better Care Reconciliation Act but many of the principles are the same as the AHCA House bill] and prevent millions from losing their healthcare”.
The organization has provided a number which will connect people to their Senator’s office, and has also provided some talking points.
• AHCA would leave 23 million Americans without healthcare.
• The bill would allow insurance companies to discriminate against patients and deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
• A majority of voters strongly oppose repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare).
• Americans want to expand healthcare, not gut it. In fact, two-thirds of Americans support Medicare for all.
Indivisible has its own page too, where people can submit amendments to their senator. “This is about applying your constituent power directly to the process,” Indivisible’s website says. They also have an extensive list of reading material and a script people can use when talking to their representatives.
Ossoff: doomed from the start?
That’s what a number of progressives told the Guardian, after the 30-year-old lost to Republican Karen Handel in Tuesday’s special election.
Jon Ossoff ran on a centrist, Clinton-esque platform that focussed on rather beige, uncontroversial issues like government waste. There was no talk of universal healthcare and little of welfare issues. He ran in what has traditionally been a Republican stronghold, and lost by only five points, but Ossoff was basically the opposite of the kind of populist candidate the left believes is the way forward.
“He’s not in favour of single-payer healthcare, he’s not outspoken on campaign finance reform,” said Moumita Ahmed, founder of Millennials for Revolution. “Why would I as a Republican vote for someone who isn’t a Republican, but still has the same values as a Republican?”
Winnie Wong, from People for Bernie, said Ossoff’s run – the election was the most expensive House race in history, by the way – was a “massive failure” of Democratic party leadership.
“He didn’t have a core progressive message and that ultimately is why he lost. The Democratic party could spend $100m and he would still lose. Because he didn’t stand for anything.”
… but there is hope for a Brand New Congress
That’s the name of a group that selects, trains, supports and promotes progressives who want to run for Congress.
Brand New Congress (BNC), formed in April 2016, currently has 14 candidates who have announced their 2018 mid-term campaigns, including several who are running against incumbent Democrats.
“We essentially provide full service campaign service,” BNC’s Corbin Trent told the Guardian this week. Brand New Congress manages press request, helps with events and ballot access, does opposition research on incumbents, and can even help with speechwriting.
Brand New Congress has organized a “weekend canvassing kick off” for its candidates (who are from across America) on Sunday. Each of the candidates – all of whom are running on progressive platforms – are holding events to boost their campaigns.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running against incumbent Democrat Joseph Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district, organized for the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016.
“We have the capacity and opportunity to be ambitious in legislation,” Ocasio-Cortez told the Guardian. “Because the world is changing in ways we’ve never seen before.”
What we’re reading
- We’re in the midst of an “all-hands-on-deck emergency”, writes Rebecca Solnit, “in which new groups and coalitions are emerging along with unforeseen capacities in many people who didn’t previously think they were activists”. Solnit says there are “extraordinary things happening in this moment”, in an uplifting survey of the activist land.
- Progressives should try to “speak conservative” to score victories, historian and LGBTQ strategist Nathaniel Frank writes in the LA Times. He says the successes of the LGBTQ movement came when activists “learned to speak the language of those they most needed to enlist rather than those who already agreed with them”.
Ron Swanson reimagined as Berniecrat progressive
Randy Bryce, known as @IronStache on Twitter, sprung to fame this week when he announced his challenge to Republican house speaker Paul Ryan. In his favour? An evocative campaign advert, a leftwing message, and the mustache, denim and workboots of an all-American.
That masculine, blue-collar image prompted one Twitter user to suggest Bryce was “genetically engineered from Bruce Springsteen songs”, while several people compared the Democrat to the Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson. Just not a libertarian.
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