|My Story: Year of the Trump
The longer someone has been on the planet, the more difficult it becomes when asked, "Tell me a little bit about yourself." Well, I haven't been a snake charmer in India yet. But a friend of mine, who actually was for a short time, once told me, "One never knows what they will end up doing next."
Little did I suspect the path that Donald Trump's election would lead me down. All all that I knew was that I had to do something - for my children's, and everyone else's children's future. This is the story of how I ended up running for State Central Committeeman in the 14th Congressional District.
Right after the election, I started by volunteering with Democratic Party of McHenry County. I had helped my district chair with getting the vote out for the township elections.
For a few months, up until mid summer, I had thought about running for county board and later, possibly even for state representative. But as time went by, I came to the realization that I was really not the legislative type. Even though I am a lifelong progressive Democrat, I have always been more of an activist/organizer. I began working toward a better planet in my teen years by getting involved in civil rights, the Vietnam War protests, and the ecology movement. The first Earth Day was in 1970. The quest for alternative energy went mainstream. Yes, even back then, brought on by the 1973 oil crisis.
Medicare for All|
By last summer, I was far more involved in the Our Revolution and Indivisible efforts.
I have been a single payer advocate long before Bernie popularized it with the public. But I believe that with our dysfunctional Congress and Presidency, I believe the healthcare issue will, at least initially fall on the states. But for single payer (Medicare for All) to succeed, it has to gain more popular support. So last June, several members of the McHenry County Progressives and I decided to advocate for 'Medicare for All' by entering a float in the Harvard Milk Days Parade.
It was our first parade. Going into to it, no one know what what kind of reception we would get. Harvard is probably the most conservative part of McHenry County. Totally unexpected, we received a far more positive reception from the parade watchers than any of us could have imagined. We got lots of cheers and thumbs up. At one point, one of the parade watchers got up and started marching with us. He wanted to hold up my sign. I gave it to him and he held it up to cheers from the crowd. There were a few Trumpers. But for the most part, it appeared that we had latched onto an issue that crossed the partisan divide. Energized by our success, Medicare for All - Northern Illinois (m4ani) was born the following day.
Soon after, we became both an Our Revolution and an Indivisible group. M4ani is also on Illinois Single Payer Coalition's list of Organizations Supporting Single-Payer Healthcare.
Our next Medicare For All - Northern Illinois parade was the Fiesta Days Parade in McHenry, IL.
Two identical banners were hand drawn for our float in the McHenry Fiesta Days parade. We could have easily had them made in any quick print place. Instead, we chose to hand drawn to be genuine, like the banners that we drew on old bed sheets back in the 70s. Each banner took several hours to draw.
About five minutes into the parade, it began to rain. Shortly after, the rain turned into some good sized hail. Some of the entries abandoned the parade. Though we were totally soaked, our spirits were not. We finished the parade. Both banners survived the hailstorm without any damage.
As we neared the end of the parade route, the rain stopped. After parade ended, the end of the, all of us who walked in the parade, including Jim Walz, candidate for Illinois 14th Congressional District, decided to sign both banners as a remembrance of the event. No sooner had the last person signed the banners, it began to pour again.
Then we though, "why just have those walking in the parade sign the banners? Let's let everyone who supports Medicare for All sign one of the banners."
Since then, the Medicare for All Banners have taken in a life of their own. They have been at every event that we have particpated in.
The symbolic significance of the banners became clear at Chicago Rally: Our Lives on the Line! hosted by Women's March Illinois.
Everywhere the banners went, when people saw all of the signatures, they also wanted to sign. The signing not only reprented affirmation of the support for "Medicare for All" but it also represented true engagement.
The enthusiasm for Medicare for All is unmistakable.
I was taking pictures of people signing our banner at the Chicago Rally: "Our Lives on the Line!" hosted by Women's March - Illinois. What I didn't realize, until I began uploading pictures, is that I had accidentally switched to video mode on some shots. But I am glad that I did. If a picture is worth 1000 words, then surely a video is worth 10,000.
From "blue" Chicago to ruby "red" Harvard, our message was resonating. Even though we would only hand flyers to people who reached out for them, we always seemed to run out. Pre-existing conditions and the need for affordable healthcare knows no political party. The fear of Trumpcare appeared to open far more minds than I would have expected to the idea of Medicare for All.
In being out there on the streets advocating for Medicare for All, I have met hundreds of people of all ages, demographics and political persuasions. Alliances were formed with progressive and activist groups. We also met a number of county, state, and congressional level candidates that personally supported Medicare for All at various events and became involved with their campaigns.