In a macabre sort of way, it was almost too perfect to be true, I thought to myself while hanging up the phone Monday night.
After arriving in Dayton, Ohio Monday evening to embed as a citizen reporter with President Obama's health care reform bus tour, I got the call from my husband. Our health insurance plan -- one of those heralded cooperatives, in fact -- was being canceled.
Now, while crisscrossing the Midwest, covering rallies and arranging interviews with the tour's lead organizers, I'll have to multi-task. Like millions of Americans who've lost their insurance, I'll be searching for a new plan, reading the fine print and wondering what pre-existing conditions might make Swiss cheese out of any policy I sign.
The political is personal for every American when it comes to the health care debate - up to and including the president, who has spoken movingly about the fight with health insurers he went through as his own mother lay dying. That personal connection has animated town halls across the country in the month of August and now the White House hopes to respond with its own one-on-one campaign.
I'll be watching and reporting from inside the "Health Insurance Reform Now: Let's Get It Done Bus Tour." It's the administration's effort to recapture the energy of the presidential campaign.
First stop, Dayton, Tuesday afternoon, then on to Columbus Tuesday evening, and on to Pennsylvania Wednesday.
Millions of supporters knocked on doors, made phone calls, and donated money to elect Barack Obama in 2008, but campaigns traditionally end on Election Day when the polls close. President Barack Obama's theory of participatory government is considered too idealistic by most politicians who believe it is generally not in the best interest of a politician to keep supporters informed and active during the policy-making and legislative process. Too many bipartisan (and intraparty) compromises must be made in order to implement new policies and to enact new laws. Politicians have long believed that the American public does not have the stomach for the real work that happens between elections. They don't want to lose supporters during the long, hard-fought battles for legislative change that too often bring only incremental change, so they go off to Washington, DC and try to involve only their most dedicated, die-hard supporters.
I will be covering the events. The campaign-like rally atmosphere at the bus tour stops. The personal health care stories of both featured speakers and ordinary attendees, The way it all comes together on the ground between organizers, volunteers, and the vast network of independent grassroots activists that OFA has cultivated across the country. But I will also cover the inside story of the organization.
Together, my readers and I will get to know the team that was hand-picked to carry on the campaign that Obama supporters hope will bring to fruition the changes that they elected Obama to make.
I'll explore the benefits and drawbacks of the so-called "constant campaign." Mainstream media has made much of the drawbacks: continuous public relations, constant propaganda, a constant push for the ideas behind a campaign. But the benefits of increasing participation in our government are often left out of the discussion. The much-needed civic education and engagement that is directly derived from a participatory process in policy development. The value of input that comes directly from the people affected by proposed legislation and new policies. The much needed rebuttal of misinformation disseminated by special interests.
Last, and perhaps more important, we'll discuss the divide within the Democratic Party on the issue of health care and the misinformation that is being perpetuated not just by Republicans but also by some Democrats.
I am not a proponent of any particular plan, and although I supported Obama during the election season, I am not an Obama cheerleader. I am an ordinary American, just like you, who has the same health care concerns that you do. Over the next few days, I will engage in a substantive, balanced discussion both in the health insurance reform debate and the way the debate is taking place.
And I'd like you to take part: If you have questions that you would like me to ask OFA leadership, submit them to me at dawnteo-at-gmail.com. I'd like to hear from you.