I've been quiet (...too quiet) lately, but it'd be remiss of me to let a day when Paul Ryan said "Obamacare is the law of the land.… We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future" go by without comment.
I was terrified of the vote. Sick with it. When the friend I was visiting on Wednesday excused himself for a phone call, I typed this out on my phone and sent it to my representatives in an e-mail the ACLU mailing list had suggested I sent to my congresspeople:
I'm disabled. My parents are aging seniors, my mom particularly with longstanding health problems. My friends are poor, disabled themselves, or people of color -- sometimes all at once because that's how these things
So if the ACA is repealed, I'm certain that someone I know and love will die who would not die if we keep it. If the ACA is repealed, I know that everybody I know will live in fear, suffering and misery that they won't have if we keep it.
People are kept alive by the ACA, they're kept in their homes, they're kept from that needless worry, fear and misery.
Ive lived in the UK for several years. I've enjoyed the services of a single-payer health care system there for me when I've needed it. I know this is possible. I know there's no reason for the US to be moving further away from that. It's cheaper, better care and my friends here boggle at the country I'm from being so far from having it ourselves. Please don'ttake us further still from that eminently reachable goal. Please don't make people suffer so unnecessarily.
They're all Democrats, and I was pretty confident they'd do the right thing anyway (Franken's been heart-warmingly awesome again in hearings for another awful appointee this week, which always makes me proud I get to vote for him) but I couldn't let it go uncommented-upon.
Today when I saw the vote had been pulled at the last minute, once I'd convinced myself it was for real (too scared to google in case it wasn't, I made Andrew confirm it for me) and that it wouldn't come back immediately
(Trump saying he expects Democrats to seek a deal with him in a year when the ACA has "exploded" is what finally convinced me) I started crying.
I hate crying, but this was different. I've heard of crying happy tears before, and maybe this was that, but it felt more like an enormous version of the feeling I'd had on Saturday night when I thought I'd lost the keys to our B&B room so I couldn't go out because I wouldn't be able to get back in again and that this was going to be a costly and disappointing mistake to admit to our lovely hosts but then Andrew found the keys had fallen behind a table -- this on a much bigger scale, of course, but the same kind of relief. The same kind of "now I'm not being held together entirely by stress, my body must perforce collapse."
I thought of all the people being relieved and crying and screaming and hugging their loved ones and celebrating and getting drunk and remembering the people Obamacare didn't get here in time for, or the people still outside its help.
I was so fragile; Andrew had to put a frozen pizza in the oven for my dinner and my evening ended up being much less ambitious than I hoped for (I basically curled up on the couch with the dog, retweeting things until my phone's battery was just about dead and now I've come to bed but I'm writing this). My body seemed to react, after the tears, exactly like it did on Saturday and after other anxiety attacks: I couldn't get warm, my muscles were almost too weak to support me, I was having all kinds of emotions at once and had the attention span of a mayfly on speed.
Of the many, many
RTs, from schadenfreude at Ryan
and the other writers of this hideous bill, to the insistence that this is the best time in American history for the Democrats to push for single-payer healthcare
(at least, that's what it's been called there; it looks like "Medicare for all
" might be the epithet that persuades people), to the acknowledgements that we know the battle isn't over but we deserve this celebration
to other badass political shit going on at the same time like a Democrat winning a state legislature seat where she had to be written in to the ballots
and just more women wanting to run for office generally
...I'd say it's been a good night.
It hasn't been one-dimensional celebration. It hasn't glossed over the limitations of the ACA
and the people who live precarious lives even with it
. It hasn't made us take for granted the sterling performances
speaking on our side
before the planned vote. It hasn't made us forget about the need to investigate the horrific numbers of black teenage girls who've disappeared recently in Washington D.C. who never get the care and attention of missing white girls
. It hasn't stopped cleverly-named bills cracking down on Trump's corruption as it endangers us all
. It hasn't made people stop talking about Trump/Russia
or the need to impeach him
But of all the tweets I've (html willing!) shared with you here, the one I think is most important is this:
Scoff if you must, but this is why I'm involved in politics. This is why I say that I'm proud of my Lib Dem friends, who when something angers or upsets us have a kind of instinctive reaction: let's write a policy motion about this
. This is why I've been so much more active in politics (partisan or not) the last few months: it's just to cope with the increasing number of things that make me fearful, anxious and sad.
I stuck with the Lib Dems when they were adding to the things that made me angry and frustrated during points in the coalition because I knew I'd feel just as angry and frustrated but with no political outlet otherwise as I don't feel there's any other UK party that sufficiently aligns with my values for me to want to support it.* But even in things like the WI, which is scrupulously non-partisan (and, being a geographically-based way of organizing people, I'm not surprised mine is full of lefties), I feel like I'm doing the same kind of work: making the world less scary, anxiety-inducing, and saddening.
And if this kind of political event, or whatever you have in the countries you live in and love people from, makes you sad, anxious or fearful, I'd really suggest getting involved in something like this. It's heady stuff: be warned, it's easy to get addicted. Most of my Lib Dem friends have stories about joining where they didn't think much of it and ended up on federal committees, standing for parliament, or whatever. I swear Tim Farron has taken some of my lines when he talks about immigration. I have friends who've helped write policies that have ended up being the law
for this country. It's pretty awesome.* It seems to have been worth sticking around for: my pessimistic husband came away from last weekend's federal conference feeling reassured that our party's membership having doubled in the last few years hasn't made it what he feared it'd be: "There was a real, real, danger that we’d have got a lot of people who thought they were joining the Coalition And Liking Europe Party" he says, but as you can read there it's clear that the Lib Dems are still existing to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.