Spearheading Ohio Rising’s campaign against Kasichcare-Obamacare expansion in Ohio has been a fascinating experience for any number of reasons. Why?
Politics is sport.
For the general public – it’s like some terrible game being played where are all they get to see is a highlight reel edited by a producer whose agenda is rarely an honest representation of the game or players.
Three of us drove up from Cincinnati on April 11th for the big lobbyist sponsored rally in support of Kasichcare-Obamacare at the statehouse. Our goal – talk to rally attendees about why they were supporting Obamacare expansion, and get a sense of the crowd’s make up and tone, accurately described in a recent post by Jason Hart. Here are some behind the scene snapshots and motivations in this Medicaid expansion fight most Ohioans will never see. I hope you’ll read this somewhat lengthy post that covers 3 major points:
1. Citizens can make a difference because we are willing to fight with all our heart and soul for our children and their future.
2. The Kasich administration prefers thug politics, and it continues to get worse.
3. Special interests manufacture perception, and the media is complicit.
#1 Citizens can make a difference.
For the millions of dollars that get spent in politics by lobbyists and special interests with their hands out for taxpayer money – citizens can still resist crony corporatism when it comes to their door.
While I was at the statehouse, Jim Heath from CBS Channel 10 in Columbus sent a very interesting tweet. It said: “The political reality is that Littleton probably has more sway with GOP senators than the coalition of 2,500 at rally.”
Within minutes of seeing Jim, I started chatting with the AP, only to be swarmed by media curious to hear perspective of Ohio Rising and grass roots efforts that have opposed Kasichcare-Obamacare expansion. I hadn’t planned to talk to the media at all at the rally, hence the t-shirt and ball cap. I merely discussed why Ohio Rising and freedom friendly people across Ohio oppose the Kasichcare-Obamacare expansion of Medicaid. Video of full interview at bottom of post if interested.
Whether talking with the media or debating on Facebook, those who question why people oppose Obamacare expansion always assume there is some kind of ulterior motive for our position. But there isn’t. We are asking for absolutely nothing other than common sense and good decision making from elected officials.
As you can see in the video, we simply explain that more government control in healthcare is worse for patients, more expensive than anyone can predict, will reduce insurance coverage in Ohio and is funded with future debt for our children.
The mainstream media does not understand our motivation, and regularly chooses to ignore the facts – until citizens engage and create a story they can’t ignore. On that day, the media wasn’t curious about me as a person. They were curious how citizens could be putting up a very sophisticated and multi-front fight that involved a TV, radio, mail and online ad campaign in addition to calls into representatives’ districts, calls to legislators and even door to door voter contact as well. They wanted to know how normal citizens were affecting elected officials and fighting the onslaught of special interest money for Obamacare expansion.
To further peak the curiosity, none of our effort involved national organizations, any political party or corporation with a special interest in this fight. For us and the donors who supported our campaign, the special interest was freedom. We merely want the economic freedom to provide for our families, and the personal freedom to choose the life we want to live.
Fighting to stop the government takeover of healthcare is really a fight to provide a freedom friendly future to my children, so they can be as prosperous as they desire. And in this battle for our children’s future, I know that we will be protecting the same opportunity for millions of other Ohio children and families. We know that a future full of potential is not possible when an irresponsible government seeks to tear down our healthcare system and further indebt every one of us.
I recently wrote a piece for Ohio Rising called, Why We Fight, which largely focused on the moral and societal decay brought about by government control of people’s lives. And while I have personal experience working with families and a healthcare system being ruined by more and more government control, and definitely fight to prevent this problem from getting any worse, at the end of every day I look into my children’s eyes, and know I’d give anything to make their lives better.
In 2008, when I first jumped down the rabbit hole called grass roots political activism, my almost 4 year old son came up to me one night before he was about to go to bed, and simply asked me, “What are you doing?” He didn’t understand why I was coming home from work every day, jumping on a computer or attending meetings. All he knew was that dad wasn’t there to play with him like he used to.
I could see it in his eyes, a little heart broken and a little annoyed, since he’d asked that question almost every night that week only to receive dad’s calloused response of, “I’m just busy, Jacob. I’ll play with you tomorrow.”
To answer the question that evening, I guess I felt compelled to have a better of explanation. So, I sat him on my knee, looked right into his eyes and tried to explain that I was doing this for him, because a future without freedom and opportunity was no future at all. I knew that he wouldn’t understand this for years, and there would be plenty more moments like this, but what can you say to a 4 year old who just wants to play with his dad?
Over the last few years, I have missed more moments with my children than I can count, and goodness knows my wife hates the hardship that this work has become. In fact, I hate having to lead these fights because all I really want to do is provide for my family in peace and have time to enjoy life with them.
But I can’t. We can’t. We don’t have that luxury. If we do not fight for our children’s future, no one will.
Our country is ailing because we have unnecessarily pitted people against one another. The motivations to abandon the truly catastrophic redistributive system become weaker and weaker each day, exasperated by politicians who use debt financed spending to bribe people into liking them.
Public money for personal gain is wrong whether it is for a politician’s personal career or special interest’s crony dependence on taxpayers to finance their fortunes.
We must turn from a world financed by the theft of any one person’s future and heed the wisdom of the idea that – I own no man, and no man owns me. This means that I have no right to steal someone else’s future, and no one has a right to steal mine or my children’s future.
For this reason, I will fight with every bit of my heart until the very last possible moment. Shouldn’t you?
#2 The Kasich administration prefers thug politics, and this does affect people in Columbus.
Prior to the Obamacare expansion rally, we spent some time in the building that houses Governor Kasich’s office, the Riffe Center. On our way in, we crossed paths with top Kasich advisor and all-around bully, Jai Chabria.
As we crossed paths, Jai tried to give me the intimidator stare. You know the one – when someone stares at you for the exclusive purpose of saying I’d like to kick your butt, I hate you and you should fear me. I simply met Jai’s laughable attempt at intimidation by saying, “You going to the rally? Have fun!”
While these tactics make me laugh and simply serve as blog fodder – the stares in the hallways, furious phone calls and arm twisting meetings with Jai or other members of Kasich’s staff have become standard in Columbus. More than one legislator has told me that “Everyone knows Kasich is a bully. He is losing support every day.”
The simple truth is the reason I or any average citizen is not intimidated by such silliness is because John Kasich holds no strings on us. He doesn’t matter to my career or future. I want absolutely nothing from him or any elected official but to let me provide for my family and live our lives in the way we see fit. For a legislator who desires to have a political career, values re-election or to advance a certain piece of legislation – they have to work with these people, and I feel sorry for them.
Can you imagine working in an environment where co-workers used thug tactics to get their way all the time? What if you were regularly threatened by people who fought to consolidate power under just a handful people, and now those people were regularly telling you how they were going to make your life a living hell if you didn’t do what they wanted.
It’s not pretty, but this is how politics works in Columbus.
I highlight this one little moment and explain this background, because people don’t know that Ohio politics has become less of a battle of ideas, or more of a battle of wills and interests almost never for the reasons the public assumes. We aren’t fighting policy battles so much as battles of ego and ambition most of the time. The tools regularly employed have become the promise of greatness or the fear of obscurity. So sad, but so true.
#3 Special interests manufacture perception, and the media is complicit.
A huge portion of the group that showed up at the rally showed up in buses right on schedule. If you have never seen a rally for progressive ideas in action, it is truly an organizing masterpiece. Special interests like CareSource, Ohio’s biggest government funded managed care plan, often pay for the coordination of such rallies to produce the desired photo opportunities they say is proof the people of Ohio are behind their multi-million dollar campaign to push for expanding socialized medicine. The media happily goes along.
The irony is that CareSource and other “non-profit” and taxpayer funded managed care plans and hospitals are the primary drivers of the Obamacare expansion push because they have billions to gain from the expansion. These taxpayer funded non-profits have CEO’s begging for taxpayer money so they can perpetuate their million dollar salaries and compensation packages. I’m not kidding – CEO’s like Pamela Morris and James Pancoast are making over $2 million dollars a year through “non-profit” and taxpayer funded entities and then have the audacity to demand that our children be further indebted to perpetuate their lifestyle.
You can’t make this stuff up.
So in the sport called politics, what’s the takeaway?
A prosperous and opportunity filled future is worth the battle. Never stop fighting because when the citizens’ interests of personal and economic freedom align with the politician’s desires, a very bright future becomes possible.
Politics is a sport. I just choose to be in the game, rather than watch from the stands because I realize it will be played with or without me. I choose to make a difference, I hope you will too. When citizens choose to get in the game, the very nature of the contest changes and anything becomes possible.
Video of press interviews at Ohio Statehouse regarding Obamacare-Medicaid expansion