It can be quite sobering to read international newspapers’ accounts of the U.S. health care conversation. All of this talk of death panels and euthanasia, forced abortions and abductions of fat children, seems even more absurd from the outside.
Gary Younge, a columnist for the Guardian newspaper in Britain, was in Raleigh Saturday at the Pro Health Reform rally and his account (published Sunday) provides one of these needed outside critical perspectives on the health care debate.
His column centers on the importance of political organizing in the health care debate. He argues that although the right has out-flanked reformers in recent weeks, the tide could be turning. He tells the story of the Durham4Obama organizing group, which over the last few months has transitioned from an Obama campaign meet-up to an independent political organizing group intent on exacting pressure on Obama, Sen. Kay Hagan, and anyone else necessary to pass real reform. This kind of grassroots, person-to-person organzing, Younge argues, is what is needed if health care reform is to succeed.
The problem is not that the right were organised but that – with a few exceptions like Durham – the left has not been. At the very moment when [Obama] needed the “movement” that got him elected most, it appears to have largely stopped moving.
After reminding us of the raw human toll of the U.S. health care crisis (“Black infant mortality in Louisiana is on a par with Sri Lanka…[in] Washington DC, life expectancy is lower than the Gaza Strip”), Younge concludes that although health care reform can still be won, it will only happen if reform supporters ramp up their organizing and do the hard work of convincing members of the public.
A significant part of the country is desperate to be convinced and the battle for public opinion – which will ultimately determine how wavering congressmen vote – is finely balanced. “We’re not going to out-yell them,” says Fox. “So we have to out-organise them.”