A Week of Firsts

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John C. Snider at the ACA March, Atlanta, GA, February 25, 2017

A week of firsts:

  • My first protest march.
  • My first political planning meeting.
  • My first cash contribution to a political campaign.

Due to previous social and personal obligations, neither Allison nor I was able to participate in the Women’s March (Atlanta version) that took place the day after the Marmalade Charlatan’s inauguration. (Allison did, however, knit several pussyhats, which were well-received and went to good use.) So, I did not want to miss the opportunity to show support for the Affordable Care Act (aka ACA aka Obamacare) in a march in downtown Atlanta yesterday. It was hard to tell from the middle of it all how many participated, but I’d say easily over 1,000 people. Modest, yes, but I think every little bit helps in trying to put some fear into both the Republicans in power and the Democrats in opposition, showing them that there are Americans who want progress in this country, and we’re going to hold them accountable for what they do (or don’t do) about it.

Not that the ACA is a particular interest of mine (my concern in recent years has been toward separation of church and state, freeedom of speech, etc.), but my renewed focus is in ensuring that Democrats are as obnoxiously outspoken, as energized by common outrage, and as ruthlessly organized as the Tea Party has been. I don’t think the ACA is perfect–I recognize it as a deeply flawed construct that was the best Obama could do given that the Republicans were never, ever, ever going to cooperate in crafting any kind of healthcare compromise–but if it’s going to be modified in any way, it should be done with adult supervision, not by the Orange Id that currently occupies the White House. And so I marched.

Somebody asked me why the Democrats can’t be more statesmanlike, more polite in expressing their opposition to Republican positions, and willing (despite recent Republican strategy that was explicitly aimed at denying Obama a second term, and after that failed, denying for nearly a year his Constitutional right to appoint a Supreme Court Justice) to work with Republicans in areas where agreement can be reached. To which I say, we tried that. It should be obvious to anyone by now that Republicans want to rule at any price; they are unwilling to compromise with any opposition (which now, apparently includes even the media!); and their rank-and-file have shown themselves not generally amenable to facts and rational discourse. There is no compromise. There is no reasoning things out. There is only overwhelming the party of ignorance, intolerance and superstition with superior influence and superior voting power. If you’re in a bar and half the room shouts “Knife fight!” when the chairs push back, and the other half wants to hug it out…well, you can see where that will end. We’re in a political knife-fight, and have been for years whether we like it or not, and unless enough of us are willing to become habitually active and energized, the Republicans will permanently set America back to 1960, if not 1860.

Which leads me to local politics. I live in Georgia’s 6th Congressional district, which means I’ve had the distinct displeasure of having Tom Price as my Congressman. If you’ve watched the news, you’ll know that Price has been appointed as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services. He’ll do plenty of damage while he’s there, but it has opened up his seat in Congress, so the impending special election to replace him is widely seen as an early referendum on Trumpism.

And it’s going to be quite the fight. On one hand, the district has handily re-elected the conservative Price more than once; on the other hand, Cobb and Fulton Counties, pieces of which are in the 6th, both went for Hillary Clinton. And since there are no party primaries for special elections, it’s gonna be a free-for-all, with 11 Republicans, six Democrats and a handful of independents all vying for the two slots for the inevitable run-off. (There’s almost no way a candidate will get more that 50% of the vote on the first ballot.) Among the Republicans, the most likely victor is Karen Handel, a former Georgia Secretary of State with plenty of name recognition. On the Democratic side, support is coalescing around Jon Ossoff (here and here), a documentary filmmaker with experience as a Congressional staffer and endorsements by several Democratic movers-and-shakers, including civil rights legend John Lewis.

Earlier this week, I attended a meeting that was both a training session on volunteering for nonpartisan voter registration and a planning session on “flipping” the 6th; i.e. seizing it for the Democrats in the special election. One more Democratic congressman won’t make much difference numbers-wise, but it could make a huge difference in raising the spirits of disheartened Democrats nationwide, and show that the Republicans are not invincible in 2018. Finally, I gave a small amount of money to the Ossoff campaign, and I plan on providing additional support with my personal time.

And so, the struggle continues. The special election is April 18th, so the initial goal–at least–is to ensure that Ossoff makes the run-off. (If we get extra-lucky, maybe he’ll crack the 50% mark!) Even if you don’t live in the 6th, you can help spread the word.

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