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Saturday, October 21, 2017

The election of Scott Brown to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat in the U.S. Senate was seen as proof by many that the Tea Party movement was more than just the Fox News’ Mickey Mouse Club.

That surprise Republican win in a liberal bastion took away Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority, which only existed for a few months thanks to a tedious lawsuit by defeated Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman. After January 19, 2010, President Obama’s legislative agenda wobbled and was never able to regain the momentum of his historic first year in office.

Democrats now have a chance to strike a similar blow against a minority president before this Trump Train begins barreling through America’s newly revamped health care system.

Despite substantiated allegations of insider trading in the industry he’ll be overseeing, Rep. Tom Price has been confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services on a party-line vote. He can now immediately begin to dismantle the ACA, which has long been his goal, along with dismantling Medicare and Medicaid as we know them.

Tens of millions of Americans’ health insurance is now at stake and the more than 55 million Americans on Medicare have nobody in power looking out for them. But we do have a chance to let Congressional Republicans know that there will be a huge cost if they live out their dream of stripping Americans of coverage and weakening health the insurance for all Americans.

Georgia’s governor Nathan Deal has announced that the election to fill Price’s now vacant seat in the House of Representatives will be on April 18, with a run-off if no candidate earns 50 percent or more of the vote to follow on June 20.

Price crushed his Democratic opponent in last November’s election by 23.2 percent, pretty close to the 24 percent margin by which Mitt Romney carried the district in 2012.

But Trump only won the district by 1 percent.

So despite the GOP’s registration advantage in what is essentially Newt Gingrich’s old seat, this race could be damned close — especially if voters look at the ballot and see Trump, regardless of who the Republican candidates are.

Our democracy’s problem is that people love living in Democratic areas — and we have a constitutional republic that rewards well distributed electoral minorities.

People nauseated by the Trump agenda living New York or California — or even Madison, Wisconsin or Ann Arbor, Michigan — have been protesting and organizing to support their elected officials through Indivisible Groups. But their impact is stunted because representatives generally only want to hear from the people whom they represent and can vote for them.

The race to fill Tom Price’s seat is a chance for all Democrats, wherever in this nation they may live, to help derail the Trump Train.

So meet Jon Ossoff, the Democrat running for Price’s seat. An investigative documentarian who is a former congressional aide to the last living speaker from 1963’s March on Washington, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Ossoff has the two things he needs to consolidate Democrats — endorsements and money. And consolidating Democrats is the key, given an open primary that could see two Republicans in the run off if the left doesn’t unite.

The Daily Kos community has already raised more than $563,000 for Ossoff’s campaign, besting the site’s record of cash support set in 2012 for Elizabeth Warren in just a week. The site is also organizing virtual phonebanks for those who can donate time.

Ossoff’s campaign has just over six weeks to get at least second place in the primary — and these next six weeks just happen to be the most crucial weeks of the battle over repealing the Affordable Care Act. Despite having no replacement and diminishing public support, House Republicans plan to go through with full repeal in March.

Know this: House conservatives have the votes and the immorality necessary to do this. The question is whether they have the same in the Senate, where they can only afford to lose two votes.

If the outrage in the streets and town halls is matched by a stunning electoral defeat in Georgia, it could put the fear of getting gnawed at the polls in the mind of the Republicans who represent swing states. And Democrats focusing their massed collective resources to elect a Democrat in a red state would also put a spike in the terrible GOP “paid protesters” talking point.

It would say, “We pay to protest, fool. That’s how much we care about sick Americans keeping the health insurance they deserve.”

Taking Tom Price’s seat may not shock Republicans exactly in the same way Democrats were shocked by Brown’s win, which offered them a preview of losing the House and then the Senate. But our 45th president never had a filibuster-proof Senate majority and unlike the current loser in chief, our 44th president won a genuine popular vote landslide victory by a margin of 10 million votes.

A loss for the Republicans this spring could shape the debate for the next two years.

Saving Obamacare is not an easy fight but it is winnable. And it’s difficult to get a Republican to do the right thing when his career depends upon not doing it. Right wing donors want the $7 million tax break repealing Obamacare would give to the richest 400 Americans.

If the Tea Party was able to build massive outrage at the idea of people gaining health insurance by taxing rich people, we should be able to build something much larger to prevent the GOP taking insurance from 25 million people so the rich — who have never been richer — can get more tax breaks.

And now here’s something you can do about it.

IMAGE: Newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

 

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