We're now several months into the Trump administration, and activists have scored some important victories in those months. Yet there is always more to be done, and for many people, the question of where to focus and how to help remains. In this ongoing "Interviews for Resistance" series, we talk with organizers, agitators and educators not only about how to resist but also about how to build a better world. Today's interview is the 75th in the series. Click here for the most recent interview before this one.
This week we bring you a conversation with Allison Hrabar, a rank-and-file member of Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America, about organizing against the latest version of zombie Trumpcare. To read Hrabar's thoughts on the recent Juggalo march in DC, as well, click here.
Sarah Jaffe: The Republicans are trying, yet again, to revive zombie Trumpcare. But also last week we saw the introduction of a single-payer health care bill that has 17 Senate co-sponsors at this moment. What has it been like this summer, organizing in DC against these periodic flare-ups of the Republicans trying to kill us?
Allison Hrabar: The interesting thing about living in DC is that we can go to Republicans in person and ask them not to kill us, as opposed to just calling them on the phone. So, this summer, for the past couple of months, every few weeks, we will be like, "There is a congressional sit-in. We are all going to go to so-and-so's office and sit down." Some of those have been aimed at getting arrested. Some of those have been sit-ins or meetings with other groups. ADAPT staged a couple of actions here. I have been continually impressed with their presence.
Living in DC also means you know where congresspeople live. Obviously, let's say, people in Alaska can't go bother Sen. Murkowski to not support the bill, but DCDSA can help our Anchorage DSA comrades and go to her house for them. So, there was a night where people basically made a speech outside of her home and pulled a big crowd and showed her that we are not going to give up even if her constituents are very far away.
It worked on Murkowski, at least. This week people are heading back to DC. Tell us what is going on.
Part of the approach is both protecting the ACA, which involves calling your Senators, trying to show our support to make sure they will not support these repeal-and-replace bills. They are basically asking people to pay drastically more for health insurance.
Then, part of the socialist perspective is that we need to look at what's next. The ACA was good in that it reduced uninsured rates, but any amount of people who are not able to pay for medical care is too much. Fifty-four million people is too much under the original Trumpcare bill, the 27-ish million who are also uninsured under Obamacare was also bad... We need to protect ACA because we want as few people to die as possible. But we also need to say, "OK, how do we start moving toward socialized medicine?" One of the things we did at the DSA convention was not just say, "We want to support Medicare for All." We want to support a single-payer system, a fully socialized medical system, so we will make sure that people don't have to worry about paying for medical care. That is the long-term goal.
As this latest flare-up happens, at the same time as a single-payer bill is introduced, does that change your short-term strategy for the rest of the fall and however long it takes to go through this next mess?
This is day-to-day. It feels like one day the bill is dead and the next day it is back and we have to start mobilizing again. There are some actions planned for the next couple of weeks in Congress where people will be doing sit-ins again and promoting a lot of, "Here are numbers to call your Senators and Congresspeople"....
Then, we are also going to local town halls that Republicans are hosting and Democrats, as well. The Northern Virginia branch of DSA went to Don Beyer's town hall. We were most of the attendees there. They told their personal stories about needing medical insurance and not being able to get it. Folks would talk about the need for Obamacare and also to push for them to sign onto the single-payer bill.
Unfortunately, a lot of our energies are caught up in this short-term action where it is like, "Oh, we need them not to kill us this week so we can fix the state in some number of years." Which is frustrating. But, yes, we will keep doing that work for now.
It also seems like through all of these fights to defeat these attempts to repeal the ACA, single-payer grew in popularity.
Definitely.... Talking about the ACA at all and bringing up this idea of "We can replace legislation. We can improve legislation," is a really good reminder that we shouldn't be content with what we have.
How can people keep up with you and DC DSA?
You can follow DC DSA on Twitter @DC_DSA or at our website at www.DSADC.org. Not www.DCDSA.org , which is a sheriff's website. We are not that. It is a very common mistake. That is where we have a lot of updates about actions that people can get involved in. We are really excited about health care.
Note: Click here to read the other part of this interview, a conversation with Allison Hrabar about the Democratic Socialists of America's outreach presence at the recent Juggalo march in Washington, DC.
Interviews for Resistance is a project of Sarah Jaffe, with assistance from Laura Feuillebois and support from the Nation Institute. It is also available as a podcast on iTunes. Not to be reprinted without permission.