It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks across small-town Oregon as our Congresspeople return from D.C. to get our opinions on the crucial issues of the day. At the forefront of just about every Town Hall meeting in the country has been the issue of healthcare.
As a country, we are asking some deep questions here, and we’re getting some very serious responses.
(Photo from August 13 town hall meeting in North Bend.)
The right is organizing and turning out people in droves to challenge the health care reform bill (HR 3200) on strange charges. Similar to the confusing “birthers” phenomenon, the newest message of “astroturf” organizing by right-wing national organizations like Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks is the so-called “deathers” movement – which promotes the idea that providing a public health care option will lead to euthanasia of the elderly or disabled. Click here for a video produced by the Daily Courier of Grants Pass.
From that same Town Hall meeting, one ROP supporter reports,
There was palpable fear and anger from the antagonists and very few lucid questions. Pretty predictable statements and misunderstanding. There were a few mentions of providing healthcare to "illegals" and no discussion of comprehensive immigration reform . . . Racism was truly the elephant in the room.
Last week, anti-immigrant group Oregonians for Immigration Reform sent email blasts to their membership urging them to attend Town Hall meetings to demand that undocumented immigrants be denied access to health care under the reform bill. They write,
If Congress now approves a federal health plan that covers any foreign national who can get into the country, just imagine how many more millions of people will be preparing to move here illegally. …
I urge all of you to protest at the top of your lungs at all Town Hall meetings of your Members of Congress this month.
The health insurance lobby has spent hundreds of millions of dollars fighting a public insurance option. Freedomworks, an organization closely tied to both the private health insurance and pharmaceutical industry (and mastermind behind the "tea party" idea), is recruiting our neighbors and building momentum in a movement that brings corporate interests and bigotry into alignment under the same objectives.
With all of the crazy-making happening this month, we’ve got to find a way to step back and look towards the root of this issue. What is the right proposing? How does that align with our values, or not? How can we promote real dialogue in the place of nonsense arguments based in fear? How do we make our communities places that we want to live, that are strong enough to not fall for divisive hate-based messages?
In this ever-changing political and economic context, we have got to be clear about what we want out of our economy, and push back on exclusionary ideas or fears, and against policies and ideas that serve corporate interests over our basic needs.
And yes we need to respond to the right’s version of an economy where immigrants are excluded, health care is available to those who can pay for it, and corporations make excessive profits. But we need our own vision too. The question of the week is: What does a People’s Economy look like? What are we fighting to create? Here are some ideas to get you started.
–We want an economy where everybody has health care, regardless of race, sexual orientation, immigration status, or economic class
–We want an economy that respects the importance of our natural resources, drawing on them with a long-term vision of sustainability
Take a second now to think about what YOU want from a new economy. Why are YOU fighting for universal health care, why are YOU working on the community garden? What is YOUR vision of the society we want to have in 5 years, in 25 years?
Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org to become part of the conversation.