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Fighting for healthcare under proto-Trump, with Cait Vaughan


The GOP dropped its “healthcare” plan this week, which seems to have pleased neither the right nor, obviously, the left. But organizers on the ground have been seeing the holes in the Affordable Care Act for years, as Cait Vaughan of the Southern Maine Workers Center notes. To move forward, simply defending the ACA won’t be enough, without understanding the human need (particularly in the time of the opioid crisis) and the ways in which the system has left many out.

The single payer movement has been around for a long, long time. There have always been people calling for a universal health program in this country. What the Healthcare is a Human Right campaign does differently, by using a human rights framework and by using not just a legislative strategy or even a ballot initiative strategy, we are trying to do true base-building that actually engages people around “What are your rights? Do you know them? Do you claim them?” Then, “Do you demand a different life based on knowing that you have human rights?”
Some single payer folks are really scared of that model. We have gotten pushback saying, “That is too bold a model. That is going to alienate the average person.” What they mean by the “average person” is probably a conservative white person who maybe doesn’t have a lot of money and maybe doesn’t have a lot of education. They are afraid that it alienates those people by saying “human rights.” What I have found is it is the opposite. For me, if I go up to someone and I just shove a policy solution at them and say, “Sign onto this” they are a lot more likely to be like, “No. Why are you talking to me like that?” You are just talking at somebody.
What we have done is engage people on values and talk to them about what they think human rights are and what it means to their lives. The response that I have gotten is that whether people have a good or negative reaction to it, they have a reaction that causes them to engage. And making such a bold claim – which is sad that it is such a bold claim, but whatever – actually gives us room to nudge people’s analysis forward.

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Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. Previous interviews here.

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Organizing under the gun, with Michael Kink


Michael Kink has worked in healthcare, economic justice, HIV/AIDS, and many other forms of organizing against inequality for decades, and the struggle against Trump reminds him of some of those moments from the past. Currently the executive director of Strong Economy for All, he shares thoughts and lessons for the newfound sense of urgency people feel under Trump.

We are not without resources for resistance. There are a lot of resources for resistance. There are folks that have fought these battles that have knit black and brown and Latino people, Asian people together, Native people together over time. I do think the AIDS movement is particularly important in that at least in my experience of it it was cross-cultural, it was cross-racial, there was a lot of fightback around white privilege and people working out how to work together effectively, and I think, in my experience, it was authentically national. It was about places where there were progressive blue states and liberals and folks who were on our side and it was also in places where folks hated gay people or hated drug users or hated people of color, the people in power were trying to kill those folks and folks found resources to fight back. Folks mobilized public opinion, folks worked with faith leaders, musicians, movie stars, there were things that we did to turn the culture that came because populations under the gun mobilized and walked together and found a way.

Up at The Baffler.

Up at Truthout.

Up at The Progressive.

Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. Previous interviews here.