One of the my most life defining moments came 2 or 3 years ago.
I was in Nashville at the state legislature and the hearings on Insure Tennessee (the governor’s plan to expand Medicaid) we’re going on. I had met a lady there named Tracy Foster who had come to Nashville hoping someone would listen to her. Tracy had cancer of the wrong spot. In Tennessee if you are a female and have breast or cervical cancer you qualify for insurance. Tracy had bladder cancer and no access to help. I remember the night after I first met her wondering how in the hell you can have the wrong kind of cancer…. She was in agony and had no where to go.
I walked into the committee meeting feeling like we had a real chance. The entire meeting lasted about 7 minutes. They never asked any questions, listened to any witnesses. After some preliminary comments they voted to kill the bill. In a real sense it was a massacre.
When I came back out into the hallway Tracy ran up to me sobbing. “Larry does this mean I am going to die? Does this mean I am going to die?”
Those words shook me to the core of my being. It was not about politics. It was about human life….. a lot of human lives. Since then a lot of what I have written has been about the impact of political decisions on human lives. No one should ever get a free pass on hurting people. There was no political reality that excused ignoring the human reality.
In two days Donald Trump will probably be confirmed by the Electoral College as president. And tonight I wondered who this meant would die.
Donald Trump will have an impact on the human reality of many people, especially those who are poor, who are sick, those that are old, those who are black or brown or yellow, anybody who is different or vulnerable. People will be hurt. Some people will die.
The most obvious injury is going to be for many people who will lose access to health care if he proceeds to “solve” the issues the medical system faces. I know many people in Tennessee (Tracy for one) who have been told for years maybe next year who have just run out of wait. I know more than one person who has the same question Tracy asked me a couple of years ago. “Does this mean I am going to die?”
I honestly don’t know.
But the impact of Trump is far wider than just healthcare. He has appointed people to run virtually every department of government who disapprove of the mission of that department and in some cases think those departments should not exist. We will all be impacted by this.
It seems only clear that rich people will get richer and that Republicans will tell us not to worry. Things we worry about are not a big deal. The normalization of Russian interference in our election astounds me. I never dreamed that I would ever see anything like it.
I don’t know how to fight it really. Trump has the odds. Perhaps he will self destruct like he seemed to do so often in the campaign but how much in the end did any of that matter?
I think the message needs to be that human reality matters. What you do to people matters and that should be the core of the conversation about him. Accept no excuses. Make it always matter. Don’t let silence be an option.
Battles may be lost. Some certainly will be. Wars are lost when someone gives up. Make this a war.
People matter and the chronic disregard of that notion for people that are poor, lack power, lack favor is an injury to all of us.
“Does this mean I am going to die? ”
What are we to say? What will you say?