Obamacare may represent the largest expansion in the role of government since the Great Society, but for liberal activists, it was just the appetizer. Live from NetRoots Nation
LAS VEGAS — The new national health care law may represent the largest expansion in the role of government since the Great Society, but for liberal activists, it was just the appetizer.
Here at the annual Netroots Nation conference for self-described progressives, organizers discussed their strategy for pushing toward their ultimate goal of a fully government-run, or single-payer, health care system.
To reach the promised land, they first have to protect the gains they’ve already made.
“People really want to run from the (health care) issue because of what happened with the populists, because of the way people were attacked, and it is the number one attack being used by conservatives on the right against anyone on the left, whether they voted for the bill or not,” explained Melinda Gibson, an organizer for the liberal group Health Care for America NOW!
HCAN was founded in 2008 as a coalition of unions and other groups, pledging to spend $40 million on grassroots organizing and advertising campaigns to push national health care. Despite their best efforts, at last August’s town hall meetings, liberal groups were out-hustled on the ground by a surge of Tea Party protesters who raised hell about the pending legislation.
“We have to make sure we don’t lose August,” Gibson emphasized. “August is crucial. People who experienced August last year will remember that we lost the media narrative for a long time, things were blown up on the ground, our organizers were in a defensive posture, and so it’s very important that we go on the offensive.”
It’s a long road ahead for liberal activists, she said, referencing data from the group Working America, which has been doing voter contact with Americans for the left.
“The health care conversations they’re having are very difficult,” she explained. “People are very defensive and afraid, and it’s taking a long time to break through some of that with various constituencies.”
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