It is not a gentle, kind hearted world we live in. And while it is still possible to be a gentle, kind hearted, compassionate person, as I believe the majority of single-payer supporters are, it seems clear that we need some “street fighters” if we are ever going to achieve our goal.
The Occupy movement has shown us that there is an empowered middle ground between the mindless adherence to flawed ideology that is so common on the Right and the enraged, explosive, and violent protest of the Syrian people. Obviously, in conceiving the idea of DUH, I hope to take the Occupy example and build on it – the sheer power of a massive gathering of people who, while not always in agreement, do share one central conviction – that everyone should have the medical care they need, regardless of their medical, economic, racial, employment, religious, or political realities.
But it also seems to me that between now and the day of DUH and beyond, we also need the kind of concerted, deliberate rejection of what we know is wrong that we saw when the Komen Foundation attempted to betray Planned Parenthood. And, ladies, we may just be the group who needs that the most.
As someone who has worked in the HIV/AIDS field for the last 16 years, where many of the folks struggling with this disease are also struggling with poverty, addiction, and other mountainous challenges, I have known many girls and women who, because of the dogmatic dictates of the Catholic church, had children they could not support financially, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Love was never the issue – most were as fierce in their love for their children as they were in their fight against AIDS, if not more so. But love is not enough. I have known too many women who Mitt Romney would characterize as “the very poor” and Newt Gingritch would accuse of being “kept down” by food stamps (without which they and their children would starve) and from whom he might take those children so he could turn them into janitors. I’m proud to say there have also been a few that I accompanied to the clinics where they chose to end their pregnancy rather than bring a child into the world who would never have anything but love for as long as his or her mother survived the disease she would have to fight every day.
I have always found it ridiculously hypocritical that the anti-abortion forces claim to care so deeply about the unborn when they are not willing to lift a finger, or pay a penny, to help the born. They are proud of parading their posters of dead fetuses, but do you ever see them holding up photos of abused, neglected, or starving children? Nope. As they shake their heads self-righteously at the rate of gang violence and young men of color ending up in prison, not one has ever acknowledged that perhaps a teenage mother raising a child alone when she can’t even provide for herself has something to do with how that child ends up as an adult.
And now they attack the idea that any woman who wants to prevent a pregnancy has the right to have her birth control covered under her employer’s insurance. SERIOUSLY??? Do Catholic hospitals employ only devout Catholics? Are there no Jewish or Protestant employees in Catholic universities? They talk about the Catholic right to religious freedom being violated, but where are we? Where is our spokesperson to step up and confront John Boehner on his ludicrous statement that this provision violates Constitutional tenets?
I have never been a “flower child,” a “tree hugger, ” or a “looove everybody” kind of liberal. I was a pre-teen in the 60s, too busy touring with a dance company when Greenpeace chained themselves to trees (though I thought it was courageous and applauded their efforts), and I know without a doubt that there are just some people who are not loveable, at least to me, as I am not to them. So I am impatient with the polite, politically correct, non-aggressive, doormat-ish m.o. of many of my fellow advocates and too many Democratic politicians.
Throughout the years of “debate” on healthcare reform, not once have I heard a journalist, a pundit, a Democrat, or a single-payer advocate ask a Republican who claims to be a Christian, “When Jesus healed the sick, how much did he charge?” or “Say your plan to privatize Medicaid becomes law – what are you going to do when poor people start dying in public?” or “How much do you think it will cost if no one has access to health care other than going to an emergency room?”
We have logic on our side. We have provable numbers. Why are we not making the opposition argue the facts? Because we get bamboozled by our own touchy-feely “healthcare is a human right” argument which is like red meat to the opposition. Human rights to them mean “entitlement” programs, weakness, timidness, pliability. To us, it is an undeniable truth, the ultimate winning argument, but it takes the teeth our of our cause and enables them to continue to beat up on us with their lies and hypocrisy.
So what’s the answer? Sinking to their level? We may have to do that at some point, but for now, I say we need liberals who are willing and able to be confrontative, who challenge falsehoods, who answer absurd accusations, who have the cojones to say out loud what many others only dare to think. We need more loud activists, along with the dignified advocates. We need ass-kickers. I intend to be one every chance I get, starting today.