This is a piece I would write about health care, and how we can all fight Trumpcare, if I were well enough to do so. Those of you who know my work know that when my body fails me, I often turn to words, but today, as I try to organize against this bill, I find even words are a struggle, because I have so little strength.To those who don’t know me or my situation, I think you’ll find my story familiar: Even with insurance, I have fought like hell for what care I’ve received, and it hasn’t been enough. My friends have crowd sourced care that should have been covered, and I face major delays in procedures that could help restore at least some of my mobility.
Amid my organizing efforts, and my desire to spout words of a defiance, I am frightened and deeply concerned, not only by the bill’s contents, but also by the inadequate opposition Trumpcare has been met with. It seems this bill, and all its horrors, have faded into a background of horrors in the American psyche. That is a state of affairs that could likewise spell death for some of the most vulnerable among us, and I find that absolutely chilling.
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If I could manage it, this would be another battlecry piece, filled with words I might yell through a bullhorn, if I could get my body into the streets, every day, as I feel this cause demands. But instead, I am writing this from bed, where I’ve spent the whole day, to tell you that I need your help. We the disabled, and other people who will be ground under by this bill — including Medicaid recipients, who will see their benefits gutted over time — need you. We only have three days. That’s not a long time to commit your attention, so please do so. We have so many battles ahead, but this historically unprecedented attack on the US social safety net will do irrevocable damage to the lives of millions, and potentially shift the entire course of history against marginalized people in the US, in a way we have not yet seen in our lifetimes.
This piece is already longer than I thought it would be, as I expected to simply offer you a blank space, in brackets, that I would ask you to fill in your own spaces, on your own pages, in your own words, in talks with your senators, in the streets and in private conversations, with words taken from others, if necessary. But I feel so strongly, and so deeply worried, that I couldn’t help but pen a plea as well.
As many of us have warned since the onset of Trumpism, they are coming for your neighbors. This is just one manifestation of a march to a much more terrifying place. As many of you know, Trump’s Muslim ban was partially reinstated on Monday. After a long string of failures, Trump’s agenda has found a second wind, and so must our movements. But for now, I am asking: Please act in solidarity, in whatever way you can, for the next few days. Your love and rage over the next three days could mean the world, and your anger after the fact won’t save anyone.
Your disabled friends, and so many others, need your hearts and hands this week. Our lives and ability to live them depend on a broad network of solidarity, because we cannot do this without you. So please hold onto your values in this moment, and defend them, and us, with everything you have.
To those who are already doing all they can, I thank you, and I hope to hug you on the other side of this, and celebrate a much-needed victory against ableism and authoritarianism.
Author’s note: If you live in Chicago, please join us today in Daley Plaza for a vigil for victims of health care neglect, past, present and future. I wasn’t up for organizing this, but I am doing it anyway, because I feel the moment demands it, and I will deeply appreciate anyone else who extends themselves by attending, in spite of any obstacles they might face.