We’re announcing the creation of Public Option Please, a non-profit organization dedicated to ongoing advocacy for universal health care. The director of the project is Eve Gittelson, NYCEve, whose advocacy for Nataline Sarkisian was key to getting CIGNA to reverse their decision after they denied her a liver transplant.
One of the things that has confounded me about the online organizing model is its dependence on the passion of the moment. All opponents really have to do is wait until the wave of outrage passes — whether it’s over health care, or AIG bonuses, or anything else that touches off heated public sentiment — and the battle ground is empty once again. Money pours quickly into online ads that are never well-targeted enough, nor are the buys big enough to have any impact, and then the impulse passes. It feels good for a moment, but rarely has any ongoing value.
How do we change that? How do we translate that passion into ongoing, meaningful activism that brings the fight to the lobbyists and the stakeholders who will launch themselves on Capitol Hill to take back every gain that is made in any health care reform bill even before it’s passed? How do we fund it? How do we organize it? How do we transform the energy that surrounds today’s political battle into a movement?
I’ve been wrestling with that question a lot. And that’s why we are launching POP today as an advocacy organization with these goals:
- Reframe the debate in human terms — health care is a human right. This is fight against bloodless corporate interests and the cost is human lives. We need to say that.
- Reach out beyond the hard-core political audience to young people who are inspired to shape their future.
- Advocate, as Eve has done for years, for those who have been abandoned by the medical industrial complex.
- Hire a lobbyist to be on Capitol Hill to fight the battle on an ongoing basis where it will continue, day in and day out, long after a health care bill has passed.
- Win the passage for a public option now–with the knowledge that it’s just the beginning.
The art for the campaign was designed by Justin Kemerling, who was one of the artists featured in Shepard Fairey’s Manifest Hope exhibit. In the coming days, we’ll be announcing an art contest and with celebrity judges and featuring YouTubes of musicians, artists and ordinary Americans demanding a public option. We’ll be taking up the cause of those, like Nataline, whose lives are considered acceptable losses in the quest for corporate profits.
Marshall Ganz recently said that progressive health care activists need to engage the public and to take to the streets. "I don’t know a single significant social change accomplished in this country that hasn’t involved civil disobedience at one time or another," he recently told Laura Flanders. In the past week, people in Minnesota and in Philadelphia have engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience and were arrested to demonstrate their commitment to this cause. And last night, many watched as Keith Olbermann made a passionate, personal, hour-long plea for health care reform.
It’s in the air. People are ready for it. Please visit POP at publicoptionplease.com and let us know what you think. You can buy stickers designed by Justin, or donate and receive a special signed, limited edition poster he designed for the campaign. The proceeds will go to fund POP’s ongoing campaign to achieve health care for all.