If you want to stop Trumpcare from passing the Senate, the most important thing you can do right now is punish the House.
That might seem counterintuitive. The House vote is over. The Senate is the next step. But the truth is that the public’s immediate response to the House vote will set the stage for everything that happens next.
What Republicans want most right now is headlines like this one, from The Washington Post: “House Republicans claim a major victory with passage of health-care overhaul.” They want momentum. They want to create a sense of inevitability. They want a reset on the Trump-can’t-govern narrative that dominated his 100-days coverage.
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If there are no immediate, visceral, visible consequences for House Republicans who voted to take away health care for a minimum of 24 million people (probably millions more, but we won’t know until the Congressional Budget Office score is released), then that kind of glowing coverage will predominate. Republican senators will want to be a part of that success story as well. And they’ll come to the false conclusion that the fierce opposition to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) before it passed was nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
But if constituents rise up in outrage, a very different story could take hold. Instead of momentum, this narrative could revolve around a much darker theme: blowback.
For every resistance activist represented by a Republican — and every activist in a blue district who can afford to make a donation — the number one priority, starting now, should be ensuring that the Trumpcare vote blows up in the GOP’s face. That means demonstrating that a vote for the AHCA is career suicide. GOP phones should ring off the hook. District offices should be jammed full of angry constituents. Every town hall should be packed with furious overflow crowds chanting “Shame! Shame! Shame!“
If you care about this, don’t finish reading this article. Take out your phone, right now. Set a calendar reminder for 10 am Eastern for every business day. Then write out a list of reasons why you’re livid about the GOP’s health bill and how it would affect you, your family and people you know. Then call every day when your calendar reminds you. And each time you call, tell a different story and explain another reason for your fury. Don’t stop calling until you run out of reasons — even if the health care fight has faded from the news.
What else? Check the Town Hall Project map to see when and where you can confront a Republican representative face to face. Bring your stories to their offices and to their events.
Done all that? One more thing — post on Facebook to tell friends that you just did these things, and urge them to do the same.
Okay. Welcome back. You’re on the right track.
This is how we make repealing the Affordable Care Act toxic. Every member of Congress who voted for Trumpcare should feel like they’re walking into a political buzz saw.
The public’s reaction to the House vote — the visibility and vehemence of our collective response — is a story that political reporters nationwide will be covering intently. And more importantly, it’s a story that Republican senators will be monitoring. For the next few weeks, they’re not likely to do anything public on this — they’re reportedly writing their own bill, not considering the House version. And unlike members of the House, they’re not going on recess until the end of the month. But House Republicans have a 10-day recess that has already begun. They’re home. And that means they’re now vulnerable to their constituents, and to news cameras documenting their interactions with those constituents.
Sure, it’s never too soon to ratchet up pressure on senators. In fact, they’ve been key targets for activist pressure on health care since January. But it’s much too soon to take the spotlight off the House. Don’t move on. Don’t let them off the hook. House Republicans just voted for a bill that would inflict obscene pain on their own constituents. They’ve earned a measure of political pain for themselves. But that pain won’t inflict itself: That’s your job, your duty as a citizen. Congressional votes have consequences only if voters make those consequences happen.
Pulverizing the House sets the stage for a necessary takeover in 2018. But it also has more immediate consequences. It sends a message that should send chills down the spine of Senate Republicans: They’re next.