Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Aug 18, 2009 6:11 PM PDT
Strategy refers to the overall sequence of steps we anticipate taking to achieve our objectives. This is where much of the disagreement arises among the leaders of the single payer movement. I have been arguing since becoming involved in the movement that we must adopt the message of the need to abolish corporate personhood into the message that we must create a single payer system of universal health care for both economic and moral reasons. This is integral to the battle plan.
Tactics are the specific actions taken to meet short-term objectives identified in the development of the overall strategy. Discussing tactics tends to be less divisive, but even here there is room for honest disagreement, such as the relative role of direct actions which might inflame the opposition and alienate potential allies.
We must work even harder to reach the average citizen who is too distracted by fear and economic pain to dig for the truth about what is destroying the economic and moral heart and soul of America. We cannot expect people who have been trained to think of such progressive ideas as "socialism" to come to us, nor can we expect those who want and need such help to join us if they remain in despair that we can prevail in Taking Back America.
Confused and fearful citizens do not know where to look to find the facts that would challenge their often bizarrely inconsistent views of reality. It is up to us to take the message directly to them in town halls, Republican and Democratic central committee meetings, city hall, the local paper's opinion page and talk radio of every persuasion. We must learn to speak in the language of those who consider themselves our opponents if we are ever going to educate them about the citizen's proper role in a functioning democracy. We will not do this by shouting them down, scorning them or otherwise angering them.
Many parents are rigid authoritarians who learned to parent this way by the example set for them in their own childhood. They may have been punished for adopting their own beliefs if they conflicted with those of their dictatorial parents who did not understand that they must teach children to think for themselves if they are going to be good citizens.
When such punishment is physical, the result is fearful, angry and mistrustful adults who more often than not raise their children the same way. The treatment for these psychological handicaps is consistent respect and concern for these often unhappy and angry individuals. This is the only way that we can make them understand that there is a better way to live in the world than the one suggested by Ayn Rand in which each of us fends for ourselves in a hostile world all too real to the victim of such abuse.
I also encourage reaching out to church leaders and ecumenical association directors to amplify the message that this is the social justice issue of our time. Among others, the national association of United Church of Christ congregations passed a resolution at their 2009 synod in support of a single payer universal health care system. Let us hope that it was not the fear of “guilt” by association that drove Obama from this church and into the Episcopalian church in Washington that is traditionally favored by Presidents.
This means working at least as hard in the rural areas as in the cities. Rural voters are much more likely to be engaged in their communities and are generally more conservative. in outlook than their urban counterparts. They constitute half or more of the population in many states so are critical in building a strong majority to pass a Constitutional amendment. There is ready access to the local media in rural areas, where there is much less competition for the attention of the citizenry. The biggest town halls I have attended were not in Portland but in my home town and even smaller towns in more isolated areas of Oregon.