Author: Katharine Heriges

Mission: ACA

There’s no hiding it. These are dark times. While the full extent of what this new administration plans to inflict on us is not yet known, we at least understand that it’s going to be rough for many months to come.

I encourage the protests that are going on around the country. If you are involved in them now, DON’T STOP. I believe that it is the wish of the current executive branch to tire you out here in the first few weeks, until these injustices will seem like normal life. As you and I both know, this is not normal. We must never let it become normal.

While our executive branch runs amok, Congress remains split on what to do about it. Our elected officials want to enact the policies that the Obama administration had so far prevented, but they also want to get reelected. And those two things won’t always go together.

Here in Tennessee, we have two senators who will be up for reelection during the current administration. Hopefully, Sen. Alexander will face a Democratic opponent in 2020, and Sen. Corker in 2018. Until that day comes, they must understand that they work for us. And one important way we can show them, as DCYD members learned in our January meeting, is by letting them know that we do NOT want to see a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Both senators have said they are unsure if they want the law, commonly known as Obamacare, repealed without a sufficient replacement plan in place. There is still time to sway them. YOU are their constituent, so let them know: don’t REPEAL without REPLACE.

While we must resist at every turn, there are obviously going to be some battles that we have larger chances of winning. The ACA fight is one we have a possibility of gaining some ground on. While we might not save the ACA as-is, we could force the hand of Congress to ensure that the law is not repealed without a replacement plan in place that the people approve of. The people like keeping children on their parents insurance until 26. The people like the fact that companies can’t discriminate against those with preexisting conditions. (The fact is, the people like everything about Obamacare except for the “Obama” part. But it’s frankly too late for that argument.)

Please take some time as soon as you can to send a handwritten letter or make a phone call to Sen. Alexander and Corker’s offices. Please don’t email, sign a petition or comment on social media, as it won’t “count” in the eyes of the senators’ staffers.

If you would like more information about the ACA and everything it once stood for, check out these slides prepared by Vanderbilt Professor Gilbert Gonzales, available for download here:

Download the Presentation

Take 10 minutes of your day to make a difference. For the next four years, we can’t make excuse. We must find the time.

The Weeks to Come are Crucial

Nobody loves canvassing. If you enjoy knocking on someone’s door and trying to sell them something, you are in the minority. (And if that describes you, then you are a beautiful unicorn and should be cherished by all those around you.)

I can’t say I love walking around every summer in the Tennessee heat, knocking endlessly and hoping that the husband doesn’t answer the door, because the husband is the one that’s most likely to be a conservative, but then also hoping the wife doesn’t answer because she’s most likely to slam the door in my face.

But I do it.

Why? A few reasons. One is that people will surprise you, and are often not nearly a cruel as you expect them to be. (I once had a very Republican older gentlemen tell me, right after dismissively shoving the Democrat’s palm card back into my hands, that I was doing a great job and should keep up the good work. He meant it.) Most importantly, I do it because I have never given up hope in a better Tennessee. But with that hope comes another, more practical reason: I do it because it works.

Anyone who has ever seriously worked on a campaign will tell you that the old-fashioned stuff still works. TV commercials, paid phone programs, social media campaigns and digital ads help you out, but nothing beats person-to-person interaction. That’s why Democrats, with all of our superior technology, still rely on grassroots canvassing as our chief means of reaching out to our voters.

I do it because I have never given up hope in a better Tennessee … I do it because it works.

If that seems weird to you – after all, you hate it when people knock on your door, and you believe TV ads make a big impact on you – you have to step back and think about it. Did you try a new clothing store because you saw a billboard for it, or because your friend told you it was great? Of course, your friend’s recommendation did it for you, right? Now change that friend to a stranger you met on the bus. The stranger is well-dressed, about your age and has a similar body type, so you know if he or she recommends this place, you are going to find stuff that fits you and you’ll like it. That interaction would probably still be much more convincing than a seeing a billboard, TV commercial, and digital ad combined. An ad is designed to sell things. A person doesn’t have to give this recommendation – they do so simply because they believe in the product, the store, or, in our case, the candidate.

When a person knocks on your door and tells you about a candidate you’ve never heard of, you are processing that person just as much as you process the information about the candidate. And if the canvasser looks enthusiastic, or relatable, or knowledgeable on the subject, there’s a good chance of making a lasting impression. Someone who receives that message might not say it right there on the door, but they are going to remember that interaction – and you hope they remember in the voting booth.

We’ve got just a few weeks left before our community heads to the polls. I hope that you will join DCYD in taking up your clipboard and heading to the doors of your neighbors. In Davidson County, there are several incumbent representatives fighting to keep their seats, as well as two key races in which Democrats could flip a Republican district. Your help could make or break a race that could be decided by just a hundred votes.

Or, to put this whole post more succinctly:

Knock doors. Make a difference.