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How Average Citizens Saved Obamacare

Issue of the Week

Apr. 4, 2017
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There were many reasons why Trump/Ryan Care failed beside the fact that it was a terribly naïve piece of legislation that would have pushed 24 million people off of their health insurance, but would have accomplished Paul Ryan’s main objective of cutting the tax on the very wealthy that is part of Obamacare. One can also blame the Freedom Caucus that seems unable to govern and only able to oppose everything. There was one major reason that their plan failed that has gotten very little attention: people organized and made their voices heard. Now, you can organize demonstrations to make your voice heard and turn out large numbers of people and see few results, but when it is strategically done, it can have a very major impact; that’s what happened with the health care fight.  

Trump tried to negotiate with the Freedom Caucus, which essentially consisted of Trump making a series of concessions to the extreme right wing of the Republican Congressional Caucus to try to pick off about 15 or 20 of their members. Trump was not concerned about the content of the Trump/Ryan bill and barely understood it. The bill actually failed at what Trump promised he would do with health care during the campaign. He said that he would create a great piece of legislation that would provide insurance to more Americans, provide better coverage and do so at a lower cost. The Trump/Ryan bill failed on all three counts. 

What Trump really wanted was the victory of repealing Obamacare and replacing it almost anything, even Ryan’s naïve bill. Hence, it was not hard for him to make a series of concessions to the far right. The problem that he had was when he made all of these concessions, he began to lose the mainstream Republicans, primarily from the suburban communities. The news outlets covered this fact, but said little about why the Republican leadership could not control the moderate wing of their caucus.


The Lesser Covered Story

The facts are finally coming out, one story at a time or one Congress member at a time. While Trump was bargaining with the Freedom Caucus, the voters back home in the districts of moderate Republicans were getting organized and getting much more assertive. Concerned citizens slowly became much better organized and made their voices heard in a very strategic way by overwhelming town hall meetings and other gatherings in the districts of moderate Republicans and some conservative Democrats. They often didn’t quit until they forced their Congress member to pledge not to support this bill that would have repealed Obamacare and eliminated insurance for 24 million people currently getting insurance.  

As Trump made the concessions to try to buy off some of the Freedom Caucus, the folks back home were educating their neighbors and holding their Congress member’s feet to the fire. Despite Trump and Ryan’s efforts, we are still a democracy and the voters are still the bosses. Without this pressure back home on one Congress member at a time, Trump could probably have continued to make concessions and pick up votes from the Freedom Caucus with few moderate members defecting. 

Organizing works if it is done in a smart and strategic way. This victory to preserve Obamacare belongs in large part to those average citizens who pressured their local Congress member back home and, hopefully, this is just the first victory against the Trump/Bannon/Ryan agenda. American citizens should be proud that they fought strategically and won.


Would white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan pose the same threat they do now if a mainstream Republican were president instead of Donald Trump?

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