I sat with a group of people in Knoxville today trying to talk about how to make an impact, to make sure the voices of those most affected, most endangered by the ACA repeal were heard and part of any decision made and not shut out. We talked about making an impact in Knoxville. Our two senators Alexander and Corker will have a lot to do with the resolution of this issue and what they hear from Knoxville can and will matter.
One lady had went through a kidney transplant and was going to need medical care and access to medication her entire life. She talked quietly about her fight for life. But she knew hers was not the only fight and she wanted to fight. She wanted to tell those in charge, the President and the Congress, that they would be held accountable for the impact of their decisions on the lives of millions of Americans. As she talked it occurred to me her biggest issue was perhaps not how to survive the kidney transplant but how to survive a President and a Congress who were eager to reduce her to a set of political talking points that gave them more power.
Another lady was a breast cancer survivor. Everybody had a story and the stories were heart rendering and real. And the common thread was the same. I have had to fight for my life. I have had to fight every day. The biggest fight is ahead. Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, a Republican Congress that feels like the lives saved by the ACA get in the way of the political agenda that drives them is as dangerous as any thing I have dealt with. How does my life, my story, my witness count?
I think whoever controls the narrative controls the discussion and right now the narrative is each day more and more about the impact of the decisions ahead on millions of people. You can’t leave people to suffer because they are poor. You can’t just leave people to die. There is no free pass. This is much more than political practicalities. This is much more than the posturing of the last years when Barack Obama was there to protect them from themselves. This is about moral standing. It is not about making America great. It is about America being good.
Trump has started more poorly than any of us thought. I don’t know if we can survive 4 years like the last week. Millions of Americans no longer no if it is safe. They are struggling to deal with so many threats on so many levels.
What happens with the ACA will define the answer for many people. Talk to the people who work for you, your representatives . Tell them this is not political. It is personal. It is moral. As much as any other issue it will define the kind of people we are and the country we are to become. You matter. Make your story heard.
We can do better. We can be better. It is on us.
And for those who will not listen because they now have power and feel like they don’t have to tell them they got it wrong. They have not won the battle. They have started the war.