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Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's HR676

ntoddpax's picture
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So, let's reset the discussion, m'kay? Here's the crux of what I wanted to discuss the other day about actively, aggressively advocating Medicare for All:

Start with petitions and e-mail campaigns issuing the demand for HR676 and specifying our collective response in the event of capitulation, to include withdrawal of support from incumbent Democrats in primaries and general elections, and the following direct action:

o Weekly vigils in front of local Congressional and insurance offices.
o Coordinated national marches in state capitals and/or major cities.
o Weekend march in DC in conjunction with mass lobbying on the Hill.
o Boycotts (at least secondary targets like cable companies if not riskier focus on primary targets like ins cos).
o "Sick-in" strikes.
o Weekday marches in DC and around the nation, mass lobbying, and civil disobedience.

And as I said about our inability to get what we want since I originally proposed the above draft plan in March 2009:

At this point, our demands have been issued but few significant threats were made. For example, Labor promised to not support Dems in 2010 until they got the Caddy tax compromise protecting their constituency. So the divide and conquer plan has worked as we've allowed an already watered down compromise get compromised further, with bribes thrown to a variety of groups to win their buy-in while others were marginalized.

So now I'm more of the mind that we have to leap right into economic intervention, maybe with mass lobbying of Congressional delegations in-district and at the Capitol, another march or set of marches, and civil disobedience thrown in to get visuals.

Let's pretend the Prog Caucus in the House won't just be satisfied with getting Subtitle B back into the bill, but really sees the Frankenstein monster should be killed outright. Let's pretend they'll have the spine to revive Weiner/Welch and flank the committees harboring HR676. Let's pretend they'll move into the space we create for them.

Now, my outline is just a sketchy starting point obviously, and there are other NV methods I haven't covered yet that could be brought to bear. But in general what should agitation supporting Medicare for All look like tactically and strategically? And more importantly, how will we organize our actions and mobilize people in the current political climate?

ntodd

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Submitted by hipparchia on

this is as far as i got last year talking about a possible path of nv escalation.

we can't have just the same few people getting arrested over and over again, or they'll just start to look like cranks. we need more people around the country getting arrested and the new arrestees need to make it clear that they're being inspired by, acting in solidarity with, and/or following in the footsteps of the ones who have gone before.

target choices for sit-ins, demonstrations, etc: imnsho i think the targets ought to be senators, representatives, and the president. it's hugely risky, and probably not doable, but something like the french and their boss-napping, but targeted at, say, bernie sanders, anthony weiner, eric massa, dennis kucinich possibly -- occupy one of their offices [with the relevant congress critter still in it] and 'hold them hostage until some achievable demand is met. probably it would need to be done with the enthusiastic cooperation [either covert or overt, i'm not sure which is best, or more likely] of the to-be-napped senator or rep. anthony weiner strikes me as the best candidate for this tactic, but i admit to that being mostly a wild surmise on my part. as for what that demand should be, i dunno -- maybe an emergency floor vote on s703 and hr 676 [or weiner's adaptation of hr 676]?

simply demanding, and even getting, a promise of future action is a down-the-rabbit-hole outcome, as we saw with the promised floor votes for sanders' and weiner's substitution amendments earlier.

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Submitted by ntoddpax on

we can't have just the same few people getting arrested over and over again, or they'll just start to look like cranks.

M'dear, all my friends look like cranks now! I do, too, even though I've merely been detained!

But point taken. I don't think my most beloved forms of physical intervention are going to have much positive impact by themselves. I'd like to see them in a support role as we focus on economic methods--a reverse of the 1960 sit-in movement.

BTW, this might be germane...

simply demanding, and even getting, a promise of future action is a down-the-rabbit-hole outcome, as we saw with the promised floor votes for sanders' and weiner's [AHEM, AND WELCH'S: there really was a debate about which sounded less weird: Weiner/Welch or Welch/Weiner. I'm glad they chose the latter] substitution amendments earlier.

Absolutely. I'd say the blame doesn't lie with the individual members who got punked by clueless, fearful leaders. Oh, and not having their back in tangible ways unsurprisingly meant they wouldn't go out on a limb for their own proposals in the face of Democratic obstruction.

We had to cancel a meeting with Welch's staff downtown last week because of weather. We hit whiteout conditions a couple miles from home and decided endangering the child we're trying to improve our world for might be counterproductive--oddly enough, last time we were at the office Sam had less than a week left to cook, though we didn't know it at the time. Hopefully Monday we'll check in with Susan Elliot, his point person on HCR, and sound out Peter's stance whilst expressing our own.

I think I'll tell her we want the Congressman to only vote for a meaningful public option, just out of spite...

[ducks]

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Submitted by ntoddpax on

targeted at, say, bernie sanders, anthony weiner, eric massa, dennis kucinich possibly -- occupy one of their offices [with the relevant congress critter still in it] and 'hold them hostage until some achievable demand is met.

I'm not sure they're the appropriate targets for such a tactic. Mass lobbying would be good, with a demonstration of our resolve to SUPPORT them through other means. Occupy a Blue Dog's office, or somebody else close to supporting HR676 and force them to co-sponsor the bill. Use the Good Guys to get intel on who might realistically waver.

And of course do something tangible to create a meaningful (I enjoy picking at scabs) primary threat for those borderline folks.

The hardest thing, but probably most effective longterm, is to threaten their money spigot. That means economic intervention not only through donations to challengers, but by threatening their corporate donors' revenue streams. Big nut to crack, but it's been so successful in many milieux...

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Submitted by ntoddpax on

Welch, Weiner, Feingold, Sanders...these guys support our end goal. They're also politicians and those folks have a different tactical calculus and are generally in my experience not so receptive to kibitizing on how to get something accomplished.

So we need to do what I've been calling "creating the space" for them to do the right thing. That means building a relationship wherein you not only tell them what you want, but can use them to get the lay of the land, find other potential allies and their pressure points, etc. Then demonstrate that you will be a constructive force who will back them up if they step out of their comfort zone. Mostly go carrot with the people on our side, use mostly stick on the recalcitrant folks.

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Submitted by vastleft on

I will note that they also serve who focus on memes, frames, and rhetoric.

There are many fronts on which to fight, and frankly none are too successful so long as the media, new media, and even big "progressive" advocacy groups won't tell the real story.

We see astounding #s of people completely confused between single-payer and "public option." And the latter is the phrase on most every lefty's lips.

The common discourse, fed by paid shills and access bloggers, has the mass of left-leaning Americans unclear of the substantial difference between single-payer (a real, proven plan) and "public option" (a slippery catch-all that means everything and nothing).

So long as "public option" is widely misperceived (as it very much is) as "real reform," we are seriously hampered in enlisting new recruits to the effort for real reform.

It's hard enough to get the mainstream media (Iraq War run-up, anyone?) to report on even very large protests if they bring the status quo into question.

One important goal -- but, again, just one front -- is to get left-of-center people to embrace truly meaningful reform as their objective. It's still a tough row to hoe to get mainstream attention, but so long as "public option" serves as the roach motel for progressive energies, the prevalent "protest" message isn't just barely heard, it's also disastrously misguided and weak.

I don't knock the importance of feet on the ground, but its easy to dismiss the importance of getting the dialog, framing, and objectives right. As I said a little while back:

The journey of a thousand miles starts with facing in the right goddamn direction, and progressives didn't do that.

Note: I hope this doesn't appear to be an attempt to relitigate our recent contretemps. It is not. I appreciate your constructively restating your call to action / meta-call to action.

I'm making the point that there remains essential work to be done to keep the "public option" canard from continually reawakening and swallowing up reformist energies. All evidence suggests that few, if any, of the high-profile lefties who propagated it at first are unlikely to push it on the rebound given half a chance.

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Submitted by ntoddpax on

All evidence suggests that few, if any, of the high-profile lefties who propagated it at first are unlikely to push it on the rebound given half a chance.

It's funny: Jane had tweeted something after the Senate vote looking for people to "push single-payer." I of course was astonished, but volunteered since I'd been pressing her and other A-listers for some time.

Oddly, there's still nothing going on at FDL "action" wrt to SP. It is a puzzlement.

Submitted by hipparchia on

"Okay." - Nonviolent Actionist mob

the ultimate move would be prez-napping of course. mob the oval office, while the president is in it, and have in that mob a dream team of sp advocates. i'd include a couple of pnhp members, especially obama's former physician, and a number of ordinary citizens who hate their insurance and want govt-run healthcare, plus it couldn't hurt to have people who want a fully nationalized health system like spain and britiain have [just to stake out the real left territory]. the demand could perhaps be that obama would have to carry on a real dialogue, on national tv, with the dream team before we let him go.

a minor stumbling block of course is that people who are trying to mob the president are likely to get shot dead.

some alternate targets would be nancy pelosi and/or harry reid, since kidnapping the leaders would be a threat to stop govt functioning until we get heard [not that it's functioning much right now], or some blue dogs, to be adversarial. kendrick meek is a possibility, since he withdrew his spsonsorship of hr676 to be a team player and go along with the democratic leadership on hr3962; the demand here could be that he re-sponsor hr676. the likely outcome is that any of these people would just go all max we're-going-to-need-more-police baucus and there would be a mass arrest right away, with no chance to make demands. probably not a wholly bad outcome, since it could generate some publicity for the movement.

conspiring with a sympathetic congressperson could result in a situation that would go on for hours or days, since they could perhaps be talked into not calling [and/or holding off, if someone else called] the cops until some demand actually gets met. anthony weiner strikes me as a possibility because he's got enough of the showboater instinct to turn it to good advantage. alan grayson definitely does, but he's not really an advocate of sp, although i suppose he could be persuaded to become more so. harking back to something dcblogger said a few days ago about respectable persons in suits getting arrested for their civil rights activities, eric massa fits this profile nicely: he was career navy, whose life has been saved by gasp! govt-run medicine [and he readily talks about this], he represents a conservative-ish district, he ran on single payer, he's a former republican who left the party over the iraq war, probably some other things i haven't thought of.

if your rep is amenable...

just thinking out loud here.

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Submitted by ntoddpax on

some alternate targets would be nancy pelosi and/or harry reid

I've been in a occupation at Harry's, around an Iraq appropriations vote in 07. No incidents, we mostly just chatted with staff, took note of the calls coming in, etc. There were only a handful of us, of course, and none of us were his constituents so there wasn't much point to doing much more intensive intervention.

If we could get people from NV in large numbers to take over his in-district and DC offices, though...

anthony weiner strikes me as a possibility because he's got enough of the showboater instinct to turn it to good advantage.

That has some potential. Wonder if we could do one of those slumber party protests with sympathetic Members. I recall how taken aback Pelosi and Reid were when they dropped by one a few years ago and got a chilly reception and mean questions.

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Submitted by madamab on

and having heard and seen him in person, he is also quite scrappy. I think he would enjoy such a protest, and use it to his (and our) advantage to push for single-payer.

I'm loving the ideas that are being tossed around. I believe that the "job," if you will, of the lefty activist is to always be on the outside of the Beltway, pushing the famous Overton Window to the left. We need to find some good ways of doing that.

Lambert, I hope you can make it possible for us to do some meetups soon. I would love to meet with some NY Correntians to see if we can peacefully "gang up" on Rep. Weiner. Mwahahahaha!

Submitted by lambert on

I ran into a technical issue here, combined with an RL time crunch (in a good way). Should be do-able in the coming week.

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Submitted by ntoddpax on

Too bad the Dem leaders, A-listers, et al, haven't heard of Overton. They rejected the option they thought would be "unacceptable" instead of leading with it. But hey, at least we're past "unthinkable" now!

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Submitted by vastleft on

"Overton Window" was a commonplace in lefty blogs. Not so much, now.

Funny, that.

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Submitted by ntoddpax on

It's almost like people thought once "their guy" won, there wasn't any more work to do.