Working the crowd for single-payer health care
Your intrepid reporter spent the morning in downtown Pittsburgh working the Labor Day parade on behalf of HR 676, along with other members of the Western PA Coalition for Single Payer Healthcare. The local letter carriers had kindly allowed us to march with them; as they were at the tail end of the parade, we had plenty of time to leaflet before hand, and we handed out the last of what we had as we marched. It was kind of fun playing carnival barker, calling out "Single payer, single payer, universal health care, everybody in, nobody out!" and shoving leaflets at people.
This was fertile ground; lots of people who had no idea what HR 676 is, but who are receptive to the message. If we still don't have HR 676 next year, I hope more of us will be there to work the parade. It would be especially nice to have enough diversity in our group that we wouldn't look like a small band of pointy-headed dreamers in a sea of down-to-earth union types.
It was a beautiful morning for a parade. We expected Joe Biden to be with Ed Rendell and others at the head, but he decided not to march because of the hurricane. I'd never been to a Labor Day parade before, being from the professional class one generation back and the farming/storekeeping class before that. Two general impressions: the crowd was cheerful but sadly sparse, and the unions and high schools of Pittsburgh are very segregated racially. On a more cheerful note, the carpenters have a very cool float, as do the electrical workers (people who know how to make stuff make cool stuff). SEIU had a huge presence there, and I was giving them the evil eye through my sunglasses until someone pointed out to me that their local has disagreed with the national and endorsed single-payer. There were many, many Obama stickers being worn, and some whole groups chanting for Obama. The mine workers had the best chanting! I must say, in spite of everything that has gone down politically in the past year, it was a good feeling to be marching right in front of about 150 burly white guys, led by their parade marshal in miner's helmet with pick and lantern, all chanting with great gusto and discipline, "What do we want? O-BAM-a!"