Pushback Works


New Orleans   The first weeks of this new administration have been an organizer’s education. Here’s the summary judgment: if you push, they respond! That’s important to know if you are putting together campaigns. Another example was front and center today as President Obama continues the run up to healthcare reform with a summit for 150 diversely interested people in the healthcare world. When the invitation list when out, there were no invitees that were adherents of “single-payer” health insurance. There is also no reason or report to believe that the President or anyone in his administration has any interest in single-payer in a practical way, because clearly they do not think they could get this passed. But, when the single-payers were left out they hollered. Hollering these days means that they sent out email alerts asking folks to complain to the White House. I got one from Rand Wilson and others. Within hours the word was out that single-payer advocates were now invited to the meeting, particularly Congressman John Conyers. Conyers has also been one of the chief advocates of action around Sheriff Arpaio in Phoenix. The threatened picketing of the meeting by the single payers was also immediately shelved. This is a great pattern. Following the immigration campaign it was easy to see how quickly they reacted to have Secretary Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security disavow the raid in Bellingham, Washington last week that detained 28 workers at a plant there. Calls and network appeals were greeted by a quick comment in the Times that essentially tried to act like it was a rogue action. All signals went out to immigration reform groups that something would be done differently after the complaints were clear and public. The Obama outfit has a great rapid response effort going to meet, absorb, and contain pressure from the progressives. This is smart and good to know for all of us. We can’t be confused that these responses involve capitulation rather than containment, but at least we can be clear that with this administration at the lowest level, protest and pressure definitely work!