Text by Danielle Gradisher; Photos by Tom O Scott
We at Indivisible think it’s important to understand what people think about the issues currently facing our county. With the debate in Washington, D.C. over health care coverage happening today, we talked with constituents of the 49th district while at a rally in front of Congressperson Darrell Issa’s Vista office on Tuesday March 21.
First we asked: What do you like about the Affordable Care Act? Here are some of the responses:
Gives wonderful coverage with increased benefits and lower costs. --LC
I know I will be covered and my friends will be covered. My costs are lower, which gives me more money for better self care. --CTA
No pre-existing conditions, reduced ER visits. --BR
I had no coverage for 10 years as I had a preexisting condition. With coverage, I get screenings. I also like the 10 essential benefits. --SD
My father would not be alive today because he is a diabetic and had been denied care. I also like that many more Americans are now covered and can change jobs without worrying about health care. The ACA is good for entrepreneurs for the same reason. --LR
Lots! I can finally afford care. It's working! --AM
No pre-existing conditions barrier. I was a stay at home mom and never worked. When my husband left, I lost my insurance. Without the ACA, I would not have insurance. --SP
Both my husband and son are cancer survivors. I now have no worries about pre-existing conditions. --LG
Our second question was a fill-in-the blank: "If I could change something about U.S. healthcare, I would...
Join the rest of the civilized world and move to single payer system, not for profit. --CTA
Give high risk pool extra money to cover costs. --BR
Decrease premiums. --LG
Make premiums more affordable. Go to single payer system. --SD
Get rid of tax potentialities for no coverage and go to a single payer system. --LR
Insure more people under the Act. --AM
Give it more time and the high costs will go down. --SP
What District 49 constituents want is pretty clear: Keep the ACA and improve it. "Repeal and replace" is a euphemism for the destruction of our health care system by the Republican party. As of today, Thursday, the vote has been postponed. A handful of Republicans think Trumpcare is too Draconian. But an even bigger group, led by the Freedom Caucus, thinks that it is too generous. These unabashed campaigners for a dystopian plutocracy are determined not just to destroy the ACA, but Medicare along with it. Their aim is to return our country to the way it was in the early 1900's, when business was unfettered and "safety nets" were unknown.
Just how Draconian the current version of Trumpcare is was demonstrated by the Kaiser Family Foundation and their interactive map on Trumpcare premiums vs. tax credits. A 60 year old in San Diego County, for example, would face a premium increase, after tax credits, of 64%, from $5,100 to $8,380.
Trumpcare represents the real "Death Panels," which is why the "Die-In" held on Tuesday was so appropriate.
by Tom O Scott
No, I don't mean a century of Trump. I'm a bicyclist, and for us, a century, i.e. a ride of 100 miles, is the equivalent of a marathon. Over the past 10 years, I've done about a dozen centuries. During my last bike ride, I started thinking about how the preparation for a century related to our current political struggle.
Trump and his minions would like nothing better than to have every activist become engaged 24 hours a day until they burn out. That would leave them free to enact their Agenda of Destruction. And that's why we keep saying, "it's a marathon, not a sprint."
Some of the methodology used to prepare for a century (or a marathon, I suppose) is quite applicable to our activity in the resistance movement.
1. Train over a period of time, gradually increasing your fitness. For a century, you might embark on an eight week training program, increasing your mileage from 10 or 20 miles a ride all the way up to 80 or 90. By the end of your training period, a 100 mile ride is nothing to fear.
Many people in our movement have never engaged in political activity, or haven't in 40 years or so. They're like the cyclist who hasn't ridden more than 10 miles at a time. They jump into the movement with both feet, devoting every waking hour. After a few weeks of this, they are utterly burned out. Training, in this case, means biting off small chunks of activity, mastering these, and then going on to bigger things. You've never been involved in activism before? Great! Now don't be afraid just starting out with going to a rally or two and making a few calls to your member of Congress. Get used to this activity. Then move on to the next step.
2. Don't spend too much time looking at the end; concentrate on the next milestone. On one of my centuries, there was a long climb 60 miles into the ride. I kept looking at the top of the mountain, and realized that if I kept doing that, I'd never make it there. So I looked just a hundred yards up the road, finding a tree or a sign, and concentrated on getting there. Before I knew it, I made it to the top.
Sometimes it seems like a monumentally huge task to win back our government. We've lost over 1,000 seats in the state legislatures. We've lost all but 17 governorships. We're outvoted in the House 237 to 193, and in the Senate 54 to 46. We're faced with gerrymandering and voter suppression. Yes, we need to know all that, but we can't dwell on it. We have to focus our energies on some short term goals that we can make, e.g. forcing our members of Congress to have town halls.
3. Use the right equipment. Once I went on a mountainous, 70 mile ride without checking my tires. I ended up with three flats because my tires were worn out. A little stone in the road would cause me to go flat. To make matters worse, I only had one spare tube with me. I never finished the ride.
Our equipment as activists consists of the organizational tools we use, and the efficiency with which we use them. We need to find the right tools, train people to use them effectively, and make sure these tools do the job.
4. Replenish your energy. During a long ride, your body uses up the glycogen in your muscles. If you don't have a way of replenishing it, your brain, which is the primary recipient of energy, will shut your body down. We call this bonking. The way to avoid this is to drink water, and consume electrolytes and food, and to do that regularly.
During a prolonged period of activism, it's easy to find people who have turned this into a 24 hour a day, unpaid, profession. They've given up their families, their friends, their outside interests. Eventually they become frustrated, and then they drop out of the movement. In other words, they bonk. And of course, take care of your health! Exercise, get enough sleep, meditate.
Remember, the object is to make the whole 100 miles, not just the first 20! The activist who can sustain activity for years is far more valuable than the frenetic resistor who drops out after a couple of weeks. You make the distance by spending time with family and friends, and taking some time off when necessary.
5. Know your route. On one of my centuries, a whole group of riders went right when they should have gone left. They ended up doing an extra 15 miles before they got back on course. Some of them probably didn't make it to the end.
The equivalent of this in the resistance is knowing which issues to focus on, and which ones to shrug off. That's not easy to do in this time of "alternate facts" and gross displays of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and other forms of bigotry. That's why we focus on a few primary issues with our members of Congress and don't react to every tweet that comes from the Trump camp. Remember, their strategy is to bombard the public with so many vile things that people just get lost and don't know how to respond.
6. Compete with yourself, not the peloton. On every century, you'll find people who join a group of riders that's going way too fast for them. They sprint up the hills just to make a good showing with their erstwhile peloton. Then, by mile 50, they're so worn out they can't continue.
All of us activists bring different experiences and capabilities to the movement. Some of us are able to give 30 minutes a week, some 30 hours. It's not a competition between those who can do a lot and those who can't. Everyone's contribution is important, large or small.
That said, it is a worthwhile exercise to examine your own activity. Are you doing things as efficiently as you can? Can you do more? Can you ask a better question at the next town hall? Every little improvement counts!
I'm overjoyed with the enthusiasm I've seen from participants in the various town halls and rallies I've been to. I haven't seen anything like this since the anti-war movement in the 60's. (Yes, I kind of gave away my age there. . .) I want to see all of us make it to the finish line, so we can all celebrate together.
Photos & Text by Tom O Scott
The day after the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office came out with its apocalyptic prediction of 24 million people losing their health coverage under Trumpcare, 320 angry constituents showed up on Darrell Issa's doorstep. All but one of them came to put pressure on Mr. Issa to abandon his leader's reckless and heartless tax break for the rich, masquerading as "insurance for all".
The one who didn't was Sean, a friendly old gentleman who has been at almost every rally for the past few weeks. I even saw him at the town hall in Ramona. When I first met him, he was an ardent advocate of Trump. But he's a senior citizen, and he depends on the government's health care system. Whereas Trump and his minions don't really care if Medicaid and Medicare go down the tubes, Sean can't help but care. He's got nowhere else to go.
Sean is not on our side yet, but I sense a weakening in his resolve. He's definitely not happy about the prospect of losing his health coverage. But he still believes that Trump won't let him down.
Can we win over people like Sean? Definitely. Yes, Sean didn't stop backing Trump when he came out with his misogynist ramblings, nor did he falter when Trump declared he would ban Muslims. These are not issues, evidently, that affect his daily life. So we have to ask ourselves -- what is more productive, to berate Sean for not caring about these issues, or to try to win him over on the basis of an issue he really cares about, health care?
The latter, I think. That doesn't mean we should stop talking about the Muslim ban, for example, for Sean's sake. It just means that, as Leslie R. pointed out, we'll be a lot better off if we stick to policies, not personalities.
We also have to be cognizant of an important reality, as the District 49 voting analysis showed. We can't afford to spend all our time trying to win over the Sean's of the world while we ignore the thousands of votes from registered voters who didn't vote and unregistered voters who didn't care about the election. In District 49, we need to find about 10,000 more votes, and in District 50, we need to find about 50,000 votes. We might squeeze by with less than that, but it's better to shoot for a safe margin.
People are energized. We can't take that for granted. The proof will be in the pudding, and the first batch comes out of the oven November 2018.
More photos from the rally at Darrell Issa's office on Thibodo Road in Vista:
Prepared by catalyst, strategies for social and environmental justice
This is a summary of an excellent analysis prepared by the group "catalyst".
Want some interesting reading? Here is the full report.
Across the district there is enormous need for aggressive engagement of Democratic-leaning voters who generally do not vote in off-cycle elections, as every community saw substantially greater participation in the 2016 presidential election than in the 2014 cycle, and this participation overwhelming favored Democratic candidates. 163,142 congressional ballots were cast in 2014 versus 310,155 in 2016. Based on voting patterns and voter preferences, the need for turn-out efforts is most acute in Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, Encinitas, Solana Beach, San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano and La Jolla / USCD – in these communities we should focus on voter turn-out among likely Democratic voters who generally do not vote in off-cycle elections. Increasing turn-out among these infrequent Democratic-leaning voters is absolutely essential to turning the 49th Blue, and we cannot win if we do not
Across the district there are substantial numbers of Republican-leaning voters who rejected Trump in 2016: approximately 20,000 voters (6.5%) supported Issa but voted against Trump. In every single community in Orange County (San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, Ortega, Mission Viejo, Ladera Ranch, and Dana Point), the difference in the rate of support for Issa over Trump was at least 8% and in some cases as much as 11%; in San Diego, the communities of Carlsbad, Del Dios, Del Mar, Del Mar Heights, Encinitas, and La Jolla / UCSD likewise saw a difference in the rate of support for Issa over Trump by as much as 7%. These are potential “swing” voters (who opposed Trump but supported Issa in 2016), and who we may be able to flip in 2018. Based on 2014 voter turn-out numbers, if we can convince half of the voters who supported Issa but opposed Trump in 2016 (3.27%) to flip, that would be 5335 votes
There appear to be substantial numbers of unregistered Democratic-leaning voters in some communities; subject to confirmation by the next round of research, there may be upwards of 10,000 unregistered likely Democratic voters residing just in the Vista and La Jolla / UCSD areas alone—suggesting that voter registration and mobilization of currently non-participating Latinos (in Vista) and students (in La Jolla / UCSD) would be an election game-changer. For example, if we could mobilize 5,000 additional (currently non-participating) UCSD students to vote, and they support the Democratic congressional candidate at the same rate as UCSD students did in 2014, that would add 3550 to the Democratic count.
Winning in 2018 is going to be a difficult uphill battle, but it’s doable if we organize: across precincts and communities, historically turn-out has been substantially lower in off-cycle elections, which has favored Republicans; voter registration is also stacked against us—Orange County is 26% registered Democrat and 47% registered Republican, while San Diego is 33% Democrat versus 38% Republican
The district is better educated and wealthier on average than either California or the nation as a whole, but there is substantial heterogeneity between different communities: In Del Mar, Fairbanks Ranch, Las Flores, and Ladera Ranch, more than 60% of households have incomes above $100,000, while in Camp Pendleton and Vista, less than 20% do.
The District is largely white, but again, there is substantial heterogeneity between communities in terms of race and ethnicity: Vista is nearly 50% Hispanic, while Rancho Santa Fe is less than 10% Hispanic.
by Leslie R.
How do we get people who voted for the current president to join us? Here I'll assert that the first step when talking with people of opposing viewpoints is to back off on personal attacks of the president. I’ll be the first to admit this is a hard pill to swallow. I believe his narcissism, strong-man persona, unhinged middle of the night twittering, blatant sexism, racism and Islamophobia, etcetera, seem dangerous and un-presidential. But that is my opinion, and when I talk to people who voted for him, focusing on these convictions ends productive dialog. He is the president and millions of Americans voted for and believe in him. If we want to engage with his base, we have to focus on the un-American, far-right agenda, not our misgivings about its figurehead. Ideally, we can persuade others to agree with our perspective, or at least lessen mutual animosity.
Of course, those who voted for him have many different reasons for doing so. Many people really like the man, they embrace his policies, they’re unapologetically reactionary in their political philosophy, and they do not embrace the progressive agenda whatsoever. And when the president’s character is challenged, these folks are put on the defensive, and may even feel personally attacked because of their allegiance to the man. When we verbalize our repulsion to behaviors we find objectionable, they are empowered as it feeds their narrative that the left is elitist, weak and exclusive.
Others may agree that his ethics and personality are problematic, but parts of his team's agenda resonate passionately with them. For example, some fundamentalist, anti-choice individuals feel the president is morally corrupt, yet see his
administration’s religious agenda as supportive of their one-issue passion.
Still others may see his behavior as worrisome, but a gut-level patriotism suggests he should be “given a chance”. Perhaps they voted for him based on intuition that a businessman president makes economic sense or they hold “brand-loyal” conservative leanings. Many of these people voted for Obama, but were misled by the unbalanced media assault on Hillary Clinton, or are dissatisfied with the status quo. Maybe they’re overworked parents with no time to look deeply into issues, diehard sports-fans or hobbyists who genuinely don’t care about politics, or impressionable youth overwhelmed by an unchecked and opinionated media.
Some people are entrenched; they’re not joining our side no matter what we say. Others might join us if we provide fact-based evidence for our convictions. They'll find our attacks on the president obnoxious, or are perceived as simply sour grapes for a lost election. What’s important in working with any of these people is to present an alternative that is not disrespectful towards the man and demonstrate a willingness to talk about issues and search to find common ground.
Talk instead about how building walls is counterproductive to balancing the budget, discriminating against Muslims actually makes us less safe, that science-based health regulations save lives, or that access to reproductive health actually lowers abortion rates. By resisting the urge to belittle the mascot and staying on point about facts we can make progress.
Surely when fact-based incriminating actions come to light, attacks on the president are fair game, but even then the instinct to ridicule his flawed personality must be avoided. Until then, as long as you’re paying attention to him, he’s winning. He’s a very adept showman and much of his behavior is an intentional show to keep us distracted from reactionary republican legislation passing in the background.
One of our stated goals is: “We model the values of inclusion, tolerance, fairness, and respect for others.” We must demonstrate tolerance of those who voted for him, try to understand where they’re coming from, respect the feelings of our opposition, and we need to avoid putting them on the defensive through guilt by association. If we attack the message, and not the messenger, we may get some of his base to join us.
Leslie R. has two sons, is a full-time engineer, a voting taxpayer, lives in Oceanside and is not a paid writer.
Photos & Text by Tom O Scott
Duncan Hunter (CA50) and Darrell Issa (CA49) were no doubt hoping they could fill their town hall meetings in Ramona and Oceanside respectively, with die-hard Trump supporters. After all, if you're a Republican in the Congress, how do you cast Trump's agenda, policies, and lies in a benign light? The only people who would let Hunter and Issa get away with this are those who have been fooled by the White House propaganda machine.
At Issa's town hall in Oceanside, it was evident there would be problems for Mr. Issa. Not enough of his ardent supporters showed up to fill the seats, and after several rousing chants by the hundreds of constituents outside of "Let us in! Let us in!" the event managers finally relented and let a few dozen constituents through the gates.
Inside, people didn't let him get away with his vague answers. Not that he didn't try, of course. But the erosion of our democracy from the implementation of the Trump agenda has got people mad and into the streets. Most of the people coming to these rallies haven't ever protested before. They understand that now it's different. What we do in the next year could determine our fate for the next few years.
In Ramona, Duncan Hunter faced the same thing. Even though he held his event in the same meeting place as the local Tea Party, for the most part, they didn't show up. The people who did come were angered at his graft and general support for repeal of health care, destruction of the environment, defunding of Planned Parenthood and support of Trump's Muslim ban.
There were so many angry constituents, in fact, that they had to reassemble at nearby Collier Park, where they listened to a live audio feed of the meeting.
Here are the rest of the images I took today from both events.