The Path to Winning a Floor Vote for Medicare for All in Congress

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    • #404604
      • Total Posts: 8,950

      A floor vote and the co-sponsor list are both powerful in the same way: latently. To actually wield this power requires persistent and strategic local activism. It’s this undervaluation and dismissal of local accountability that leads to the analysis behind #ForceTheVote: the notion that we just need to pull harder on the same lever of power that we already have through the national co-sponsor list. The adoption of this faulty analysis — without significant consultation of organizing groups already working on this issue — has not only led to the popularization of an ineffective tactic, but also has deepened existing misconceptions about our path to victory.

      Here’s an example of that co-sponsor list in action: For almost all of the years that Joe Kennedy represented Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District, he was not a co-sponsor of the Medicare for All bill. But when Healthcare-NOW formed a local in-district coalition that brought this to the public — a very specific public, his constituents — he finally started to feel the heat. Late in the campaign, activists spent an entire month canvassing outside supermarkets in his district, informing them that Kennedy was not a co-sponsor of the bill and asking them to call his office. When we finally got the in-person meeting that led to his co-sponsorship, he shared his distress over these calls, the vast majority of which came from his district. The power of his absence on that co-sponsorship list laid dormant until activists picked it up and used it against him.

      But an actual mass movement, counterintuitively, doesn’t look like everyone doing the same thing; rather, it means building power in your neighborhood, city, or state. If you’re building power effectively, it will look very different in Alabama’s 7th Congressional District than in California’s 12th Congressional District. You make a huge difference to the national movement by doing the kind of local-organizing and coalition-building work that creates deep and enduring accountability structures we can draw upon no matter who is in office.

      Unfortunately, instead of funneling people into the organizations that are base-building locally, #ForceTheVote became a purity test that distracted from the less-glamorous work of organizing and perhaps even undermined it. Rather than consolidate our efforts, #ForceTheVote spawned a new organization that would do more “radical” Medicare for All work. Frustration that should have been directed at local Democratic parties and all the complicit institutions that uphold our for-profit health care system was instead turned on progressive organizers who didn’t endorse this overnight sensation of a tactic.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

    • #404635
      • Total Posts: 4,514

      It’s what he said during the campaign, and I think he won’t break this campaign promise.

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