We Don’t Elect Our State Reps To “Spurn” Us #Medicaid Expansion

HEY! WAIT Did you hear?  Our Tennessee State Governor Haslam along with House Speaker Harwell and  Senate Rand McNally were cool with the idea of having a special legislative session regarding Medicaid Expansion!  So exciting!

Oh, now, what was that different sound? That was the sound of all the other reps’ “NOs”. According to an intern in Speaker Harwell’s office the matter is now dropped.  And I am angry. I AM ANGRY!  If you get a chance, read  Humphrey On The Hill – Tennessee Politics and Legislature because it gives you a good idea just how our State Representatives spurned Medicaid Expansion.

Tennessee could become the 32nd state to expand Medicaid,  An expanded Medicaid program would provide greater access to health coverage.  Medicaid expansion would provide more low income adults access to healthcare services, resulting in improved health outcomes.

Expanding Medicaid could save our State Of Tennessean money,  The Federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost for newly eligible low-income adults for the first three years. There are so many benefits for Medicaid Expansion, I just don’t get the hold up

Well, how do I tell my 24 year old special dude that he’s been “spurned”?  Or look at Reid when he was a really little guy, weighing in at only 1 lb. 5 oz. Well, my Tennessee State Legislature, My representatives are telling me that my child is spurned, meaning rejected with disdain.

So let’s create an action plan.  Governor Haslam’s office is tallying their phone calls.  Please call him at 615-741-2001, thank him but then demand a special legislative session for Medicaid Expansion.  Call your State House and State Senate reps and tell them to get on board, that you’re sick and tired of seeing rural hospitals close down and people losing their jobs.  Make videos of how Medicaid Expansion would affect you and then make them go viral. Like the one I did when the ACA was being threatened :

Are we refreshed? Are we rejuvenated? Are we together?

Now the holidays are over and it’s time for the new year of activism, phone calls, planning sessions, knocking on doors and revitalizing each other.  I hope everyone has a had a chance to recoup accordingly.

2018 is a pivotal year for turning TN blue and we need all hands on deck. Look how close we came with Mary Alice Carfi in TN-7; a flawless grassroots level working together at it’s best! But with success comes areas of improvement.

Recently, I posted a comment to an opponent of Diane Black’s uncontested TN-6 House seat. Not that I expected much commentary. However, suffice it to say how surprised I was when the majority comments I received was from BLUE supporters commenting on my font use!  And frankly, my feelings were hurt.  Folks, come on! Doesn’t anyone remember that awful day in November, 2016 when we all wandered around, wondering “what do we do next?” For me, it was getting plugged into Indivisible Sumner where citizens of Sumner County came together organizing and advocating for the values of diversity, social justice, and environmental conservation. Together, We stand INDIVISIBLE. Nowhere does it say “divide”. Everyone in our grassroots effort of Sumner Indivisible comes with an important skill set. And every opportunity to use these is not only welcome but very appreciated in an appropriate non-condemning way. But let’s not use these skill sets in the minutia of public social media. Come to meetings, share your expertise with the group so we can all benefit, not just rely on the keyboard hijacking that can easily offend a like-minded person while adding fodder for the opponent. Correcting one’s font choice on a public Facebook page is not a great example of advancing a message of unity and professionalism.  In order to be attractive to our mission, we all have to change to be inclusive and inviting.

We have so much to do to prepare for the 2018 midterm elections. We must be prepared to fight for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. We must find Democrats for House TN-6 and get the support out again for Mary Alice Carifi for TN-7 (which she almost won!). We must keep our eye on the attack to continue to erode the ACA mandates, Planned Parenthood. We must get CHIP fully funded for our children.  We must be prepared for voter registration and to get out the vote. Also, we must hold our own Tennessee Statehouse’s feet to the fire as they always attempt to send some zingers of ridiculous legislation to keep us on our toes. We must do this TOGETHER and ORGANIZED, not singularly, tearing each other down.

If you haven’t already, get involved with the Tennessee Justice Center where they will be holding a Bring It Home rally on January 9th for opening day of our State legislature (see their Facebook page for more info.)

Join an Indivisible group like ours at www.indivisiblesumner.org.

I guess what I’m asking is: let’s use use our talents that are in our wheelhouse , together, in a constructive way, a way that will truly flip Tennessee blue.  We are organized, We are mighty. Together,  WE can  get things done!

The Story of Us

People often ask how our chapter of Indivisible started here in Sumner County. The story begins on November 9, 2016 at the Hendersonville Publix of all places.  The day after the election was difficult,  but like most people I got up, went to work, and made it through the day.  That evening I went to the grocery store for the typical last minute items: milk and bread.  It was late with just a few people in the store and only one checkout open.

I approached the register and overheard the cashier speaking with two ladies at the front of the line.  It was obvious that English was a second language for them and the cashier was finding it difficult to communicate with them as they attempted to pay for their groceries.  While the ladies finished gathering their bags the cashier turned and said hello to the next person in line, but was still visibly frustrated due to the language barrier of her previous customers.  As the ladies moved out of earshot the cashier turned again to the next customer and whispered with glee, “All I gotta say is, ‘Build That Wall!'”

This blatant demonstration of xenophobia dumfounded me. Having grown up in the south, I am well aware of the constant presence of these attitudes, but I have rarely encountered them so openly displayed in public.  One of my fears during the 2016 campaign was coming true.  The violent, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic language put on display by Donald Trump during the campaign was now making it acceptable to openly show these darker human impulses; to make those unfamiliar to us or different from us into an “other,” a “them,” a “thing.”

“All I gotta say is, ‘Build That Wall!'”

Driving home that evening I felt angry, felt afraid, felt isolated.  Those thoughts and feelings festered for several weeks until I had the good fortune to break my leg.  At the time I certainly would not have called it luck, but among other restrictions my injury prevented me from driving.  This led to countless long Uber rides to and from work.  Having long, sometimes incredibly deep conversations with each of these drivers gave me a bit of hope that maybe our community was not the haven of hatred that I experienced that night at the grocery store.  We did not always agree, but we were always able to have civil discussions and usually found more common ground than disagreement.  After a few weeks of this a funny thing happened: several of the drivers noticed my Bernie Sanders sticker and whispered to me, conspiratorially, “You like Bernie, too?  I thought I was the only one around here.”

January 2 Indivisible Groups

Over the course of the next few months I heard more and more of these whispers; people who felt just as angry, and scared, and isolated as me.  Around the same time articles and news stories began appearing talking about this new grassroots organization called “Indivisible” that had been organizing people to show up at town hall meetings around the country.  It seemed I was very much not alone.  Reading the Indivisible Guide, I learned about the backstory of Leah Greenberg, Ezra Levin and other former congressional staffers who got together in their apartments and, using the tactics of the Tea Party as inspiration, cobbled together a typo-laden Google Doc and hastily sent it out to a few friends and family.

January 12 Indivisible Groups

According to Leah, by the next morning they knew something amazing was happening.  The Google Doc crashed repeatedly over the course of the next few days and their inboxes were flooded with questions and comments – many pointing out the various typos within the Guide.  Two days after the Guide was posted to Ezra Levin’s Twitter account it had gone certifiably viral.  Former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, shared it.  On December 16, 2016 the New Yorker published a featured article about it.  Suddenly groups around the country began to form, but not due to the urging of any of the authors.  People simply found the Guide, read it, and decided to put it into action.  Many of the groups returning from the Women’s March in Washington, DC formed Indivisible Groups during the long bus trip home.

By the next morning they knew something amazing was happening

February 14 Indivisible Groups

By February 14, 2016 a movement had begun.  On that day I started a Facebook Group, followed shortly by a Facebook Page as I was not really sure which was which or how any of this worked.  I registered with the Indivisible Guide webpage and waited.  People slowly started liking the page and joining the group.  By March when we had our first meeting about 10 people showed up.  We got to know each other, and the time was mainly used to vent all of the pent up negativity of the previous months.  We had several meetings after that and made plans for actions and coordination with other nearby groups in Nashville and Gallatin.  We held protests as congress attempted to repeal the ACA.  We made countless phone calls.  We organized and held vigil in the wake of the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.  We began to make ourselves heard at the local level, and that grassroots power has become a roar across the country.

Current Indivisible Groups

Today there are over 6000 Indivisible Groups in the US.  There are at least two groups in every congressional district.  Throughout the course of 2017 the focus of our group and others like us has been to #resist, but now as we look to 2018 we are becoming more.  We are focused on supporting our local people of color and LGBTQ citizens, on increasing voter engagement and turnout, on helping our towns and counties continue to grow into beautiful, diverse, inclusive communities.  We will stand together, and we hope others will stand with us, because in the end this is not the story of me, or the story of you, or them.  This is the story of us.