Melanie's March concluded last Thursday. What long term effect on the Healthcare Debate remains to be seen. You can see the web site that is an interim result of the march here, Link. It is an interim result because the march concluded in Washington with a trail of Senators and Representatives and other people in the power structure who spoke about promise and what can be delivered. Some even placed an Easter deadline on it. (I remember in the fall they talked about a Christmas deadline.) A final result won't be in until we see what the power structure will do to fix this issue.
If there is no solution by Easter, then can one come to the conclusion that our government and those in the power structure are just running the clock on us? Wear us down and hope we will lose hope and watch this fade into the background? Will the Democrats resurrect this issue for the fall? A cynic would look at this healthcare issue much like the GOP trotted out the Abortion Issue for decades and when they had control, they did nothing but raise money and run elections on it. Who cares if it tears apart the fabric of our society? Is Healthcare becoming the Democrats' Abortion Issue?
I joined the march for Melanie on the last day. Buses left from Philly at 8:30. Being a complete knucklehead, I brought pens and index cards to do a survey of my own. I got up in front of the bus, thank yous to Andre and Katherine for indulging this, I id'd myself as a blogger with space on the Huffington Post, and asked if those on the bus would be interested in participating. Enough said yes, so the pens and cards went out.
I got overwhelming responses to the thought of Marching again for a Single Payer. Many said they would do what is needed to be done. I asked what they would ask of a mucky-muck (Senator or Representative) if they had the chance, as well as the President. I asked why they came today. Everybody had the nodding heads. (I will have another post where opinions diverged.)
Everyone pretty much wanted to know why at least the public option hasn't been done already. There is a real sense of irritation at having to come to DC.
After we arrived at Union Station, there were some speeches as people got themselves together. Those who marched on foot from Philly arrived. Carnations were passed out to signify those who passed away during the Melanie's March because of a lack of insurance. We walked a couple of blocks to the Senate Office building where we were told the carnations we held were considered security threats (I think they are threats to the status quo.). They, as well as the signs we made and carried, were placed outside as we went in.
Ushered into a Senate Hearing chamber, as I stood and watched the trail of pols attracted to the cameras, I kept thinking that we are being used and duped. I don't mind being the human wallpaper for a good cause. It wasn't what they said as much as who was saying it. It was almost as though these pols were looking for cover, and this march was providing it (I am fine with this if it gets the job done). Senator Reid has not been able to wrangle the cat rodeo called the Senate to do much of anything for a year. Senator Dodd from the great State of Insurance spoke for a bit. Arlen Specter, the guy we got in a trade for some used single bullets and an open can of soda, will be a free agent by the end of the year (hopefully the spring) - he ran his mouth for a bit...
I have to say I was impressed with Senator Tom Harkin, he has always been there for this issue. Senator Bob Casey was surprisingly eloquent when he spoke about the Beatitudes. Senator Sharrod Brown was impressive speaking about canaries in a coal mine (I was thinking about a proper snark talking about gas inside a senate chamber). I wondered why Representative Rob Andrews was speaking in a Senate Chamber. Could he be Senator Lautenberg's groomed replacement?
What began to really strike me was this was a memorial service for somebody, Melanie Shouse, who would have marched for anyone of us. She could have been standing next to me at a rally like this, or running through walls to get Obama elected. Her significant other spoke, those who knew her in life spoke. This is someone who really believes in the America we all crave. She was cremated wearing an Obama '08 T-shirt.
She passed away because she didn't have access to healthcare at the right time. Others from families decimated in the same way spoke about their experiences. I can't exactly say I was happy to be there, but I can say I was proud to be able to help celebrate this life in a way that will hopefully help everybody. This is what they tell me Melanie was about. The pols were almost a distraction.
The next day was the healthcare summit - or should it be called the dogs and ponies of Washington, DC. This life celebration became a warm-up event for the following day.
On the way home I passed out cards and pens once again and many of the fellow riders on the bus were of the mind of we'll see what those in power will actually do.
It made me realize the senate chamber was filled with words and a photo op for the opportunist class. It is saying something about those in power that a woman's personal struggle needed to be made this public in order to get help to a country that is sick with worry and financially panicked literally to the point of death. If we need to humiliate ourselves with rallies like this so those in power can feel that superior in order to do the right thing, then I guess we have to do it.
It just feels like we are hunting for shame in the shameless and asking for alms from the greedy. But we need to keep doing it to fix this problem.
Thank you to those who marched and organized this event, again their link.