I had posted a comment about Organizing for America’s National Health Care Day of Service, and how such service ideas like food and blood drives and victory gardens could help to bring about health care reform in America…. I had my doubts.
I wrote here that I have chosen to participate in a march and rally in North Miami for single payer health care instead of the kind of community service activities suggested by Organizing for America.
I attended not one- but two health care meetings to plan for National Health Care Day of Service- one in North Miami and then another that I had signed up for in Hollywood previously but was held a week later. Since I had already attended one I thought until the last minute that I would skip the Hollywood meeting. Then I and others who had attended the North Miami meeting decided to promote the single payer march and rally to the Hollywood group, ’cause if you’re gonna have a rally, it’s best to have a good turnout!
The Hollywood group thought that some of us could go to the evening rally in North Miami, but we’d have a food drive during the day in Hollywood beforehand. That group has since pretty much fallen apart, however, because the purpose of National Health Care Day of Service was unclear to me and apparently to those who showed up to the meeting.
The host of the Hollywood meeting had emailed her decision that our group would also do a blood drive the week before- and a separate rally in Hollywood- and then a food drive- and then continuing meetings as a “Hollywood Chapter” of OFA- and on and on and on. Those complications led me to make some assumptions about Organizing for America and what it can accomplish.
I then attended a special OFA meeting with just a few other people, however, and was able to meet Craig Borkon and other DNC/OFA staffers one on one. I was very impressed at how personable they all were and willing to listen. They talked about something mentioned at the Listening Tour meeting: reaching across party lines. I realized that reaching those who hold other or even opposing political views as well as those who may be politically apathetic is just as important as it was during the last presidential campaign, and rallying for specific legislation may not always accomplish that.
I decided to give OFA another shot and volunteered at a phone bank yesterday with just a couple of other participants. One of the volunteers also had doubts about how food and blood drives and such were going to make any difference to health care reform, and that volunteer was really frustrated. I had also gotten emails from people agreeing with my doubts, so I could see that I was not alone in my opinion.
But we started calling people, and I could see that just like during the campaign, it’s so important to reach out to people who are more often than not political novices and just remind them that the issue is out there, and that they can pay attention just by getting involved through the website or participating in a local event on the 27th.
Many people do not need to be inundated with the specifics of health care legislation as much as they just need to be made aware that there are still people coming together in their community and welcoming everyone to the cause of bettering things.
So, perhaps if people who are just out shopping or even willingly participating in an event can see community actions such as food and blood drives and other health-related outreaches on the 27th, it might just let them know that the spirit of the Obama for President campaign is still present in their community. Perhaps that will let them know that there are issues out there that we can continuously come together over.
I feel more open-minded about what Organizing for America intends now, and I suspect that they may be open-minded about what participants like me want to see happen.
I recommend that we all remember that effecting change doesn’t just mean sticking to our core values and organizing with the like-minded, but also reaching out carefully and considerately to any and all Americans who just might respond and find a way to participate in effecting change in America.
That’s a slower and more delicate process, but perhaps it has its place.
Perhaps… I don’t know. It’s just a thought.
What do you think?