Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Chillin' Out: It's August

Dear Blog,

No, I have not forgotten you. As the song says, ya know, you were always on my mind.

It's been a stormy month out there, hasn't it? Death panels (wtf?), guns at Presidential speeches (omfg!), Obama as a Nazi (take it away, Barney) it's all been a bit... mad, hasn't it?

Meanwhile, I've been... weirdly relaxed. My husband and I had the most glorious ten day holiday in the mountains of northern Spain. If you ever have the chance - I highly recommend this pristine, largely unspoiled area where they make delicious cheese and wine, where everyone is almost freakishly tan and healthy, by London standards, and where you can walk in the mountains all day and sit outside over your evening meal until late at night.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch I've got some really interesting free-lance projects on the go, where I act as PR, public affairs or a communications consultant to some really inspiring people.

And the health care debate... lurches on.

Everywhere I go Brits come up to me and want to know how Americans can possibly be so upset about the idea of giving everyone healthcare. American Democrats that I meet are beside themselves with anger and concern that the public debate has strayed so disastrously from reason.

But you know what? It all looks... sort of familiar to me. Around this time last year I was running our campaign office and spending the bulk of my time scooping dejected activists up from the limpid pools of fatalistic despair that they were sinking into. We were coping, you may recall, with not only a dip in Obama's poll numbers following the apparently successful "celebrity ad" from McCain, which made the oh-so-rational argument that 1) Barack Obama is quite famous 2) Paris Hilton is also quite famous. 3) Therefore they were just the same. People, bizarrely, appeared to be buying into this. And then, Sarah Palin entered our world.

My spiel (repeated to every Democrat I met twice daily, and taken alongside volunteerism) was that yes, things are going to go up and down. Nobody ever expected that this was going to be easy. But also that, yes, we do have a plan to win. We don't think that plan is any less valid now that we're 3 points down than it was when were 10 points up. It does, however, involve a lot of time, energy and commitment from all of us. And that the surest way to lose is to convince ourselves of the impossibility of winning.

Two Augusts ago, those of us who were early Obama supporters started going through a milder version of something quite similar. All we were getting in the press was that Obama was 35 points behind Hillary Clinton in the polls, she was the shut out favourite to take the nomination. My spiel at that time was that, yes, it was going to be difficult to win, and it would require a massive effort, but also that the confident assertions of the pundits and prognosticators were so much sound and fury signifying, essentially, nothing. The tragectory of the race would be set by the early primaries and caucuses, which is why rather than obsessing about the implausibility of our own success, we would spend out time raising money and getting out the vote for those races.

So August, to me, just feels like the usual ritual Moment of Panic that we Democrats go through on at least a yearly cycle.

Does that mean that health insurance reform will be easy, or is certain to succeed? Not at all. It's going to be very hard work indeed - remember that universal health care has been the holy grail of every Democratic president since FDR - but:

1) We have already come closer to making it a reality than anyone ever has before - no major reform has ever cleared all House Committeees before.
2) We are unlikely to have a bigger or a more cohesive majority in Congress than we have right now.
3) Some of reform's most effective former opponents have either remained silent or joined our side. (Remember Harry and Louise? They are literally appearing in pro-reform ads.)
4) It's not entirely out of our control.

We are not in a situation where we are helplessly sitting back and watching others do terrible things to our national debate without any power to react - it is within our power to get on the phone to our Senators and Representatives to let them know what we think.

We each have a wide network of friends and family who may be hearing lies and misinformation about the healthcare debate. We can set the record straight.

Here's a snippet from the lates Democrats Abroad alert on health insurance reform:
This next 30 days are critical in the health care reform debate at home. The emails from many of our members and the first-rate discussion of this signature issue for the President at the August Speakeasy show that the level of interest among our members is extraordinarily high.

The White House has asked that we write or call our Representatives and Senators to urge support for the President’s core principles on Health Insurance Reform:

-- to reduce costs
--to guarantee choice
--and to ensure quality care for all.

DA’s Washington office has also posted a Legislative Alert on the DA website, urging members to write or call their Representatives and Senators in support of the President’s core principles.

Let me also urge you to write or call your elected representatives in Washington. Do it in the next few days. That is particularly important for those of our members who come from states where the position of their Representative or Senators is unclear or as yet unknown.

For your Representative’s contact details, go to: http://www.democratsabroad.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=65191&qid=6623723.
For your Senators’ contact details, go to: http://www.democratsabroad.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=65192&qid=6623723


corny said...

Great Blog Great read!

Obama London said...

Ah gee, thanks (blush). Stop by any time!