When I stepped into the empty parking lot to set up tombstones and a bullhorn, my thoughts were on my nerves. By the end of the event, I was livid.
How can people think a bill that could leave over 24 million Americans bankrupt or dead is a good idea? While I agree that the ACA in its current form needs fixing, to leave it to states to increase premiums because of pre-existing conditions invites a fox to the henhouse that will rip up people’s lives and financial situations. As I shouted the litany of things the AHCA would do, the fact that more Americans could die if the AHCA is signed into law became more real, and the crowd felt it too.
A common theme I see with demonstrations like this has become expatriation. At rallies for immigrants, stories were shared about migrants sneaking into Canada. Charlie, a British National, spoke about his consideration to move back, after he'd been in the States for over 20 years. "We moved here because of what America represented to us, but what I saw when I first came here, opportunity and freedom of choice, is eroding," he said.
It has for years. Speakers came up and talked about two decades ago, when they had to try not to go bankrupt because their child had a pre-existing condition. They shared their concern about an America where, if you live in the wrong state, the bad old days can return. "We should not have to get money through a spaghetti dinner fundraiser to get health care!"
An occupational therapist who worked with families from low incomes noted the drop in patients she had because of the ACA; people could afford to see a doctor without having to get extra help. While the ACA does need fixing in some areas (it is still not universally accessible), it does not need to be replaced by higher premiums for seniors and low-income people or the bad-old days of pre-existing conditions couched by "states' rights."
Father Paul of the Detroit Episcopal Church presided over a prayer and reminded the audience (and hopefully the Trump supporters across the street) that making sure everyone was taken care of, even “the least of these,” was an obligation of society, a part of the Christian faith that many on The Right, who claim to be faithful Christians, ignore.
As we laid on the ground, I eyed the five Trump supporters standing across the street, waving their signs. I heard from the crowd that they use our numbers to make it seem like we are part of them: that they are a majority. Taps were played as they gave their side of the story to Fox 2 that we’ve all heard before. We’re the “un-American” ones; they are the “true patriots.”
But as we walked to Trott’s office to lay our graves at this door, I had to ask: What is patriotic about following a group of hurting people in a building, who are trying to get a message to a representative to do his job and represent us? Because one of the trumpeters followed us into the building, up the stairs, and proceeded to shout at us for our pain. It wasn’t enough that this individual disagreed with us, he had to follow us into a tight space and mock them after they shared heartbreaking stories about going bankrupt, about seeing patients suffer.
This is the level of callousness we are dealing with. Not just with legislators, but with their supporters. We are dealing with a class of people who have no problems hurting others to protect their “way of life” and bully others by any means necessary to do so.
The question becomes bigger than Trott and bigger than Trump in this case. The man who followed us and harangued us is not just a lone jerk. He is our neighbor, our father-in-law, our aunt, our coworker. In the conversation surrounding “dying for care,” we need to remember that some of those around us have no problem seeing others suffer.
It’s a fact, and how you deal with it is your own personal business and regards your conscience and yours alone: most people that support the deadly AHCA aren’t in our Congressional Halls: they are in our homes, our offices, our neighborhoods, churches, and schools. I was left with that somber reminder on Sunday.