don't mourn, organize!
August 12, 2009 7:24 AM   Subscribe

What can I do, while overseas, to help educate about/support/do something about the healthcare debate happening in the US?

The situation: I'm a US citizen currently living in Wales, with virtually nothing to fill my time until, say, mid-September when school starts up again. Before going back to school, I worked for a company dedicated to anti-poverty work, with an emphasis on healthcare accessibility, so the current 'debate' (can you call it a debate when there isn't even a sensible counter-argument happening publically?) is somewhat near and dear to my heart.

I'd like to be able to do something, to educate, to support something to channel the rage and the frustration and the wanting to do something to support the idea that health care is a basic human right. Except, not living in the US, I can't do calls, or go to town meetings, or do on-the-ground stuff.

So my question to hive mind -- is there anything I can do, essentially only via the internet? Something proactive, something that isn't just sitting around and bitching. Anyone have any ideas?

Thanks much!
posted by kalimac to Law & Government (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Give money, or take a second job and donate the proceeds. Unless your dad is a politician, the rest is just noise.
posted by gensubuser at 7:28 AM on August 12, 2009

You could spend some time reading up on the sensible counterarguments to your position. That way, you'll be able to participate in the vibrant, public debate that is going on here. Trying to "participate" without understanding the concerns of those who disagree with you is just yelling, and we don't need any more yelling.
posted by decathecting at 8:08 AM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

I agree with decathecting-While I personally don't happen to be among them, there are smart, educated, caring people who have valid concerns about reform, and the best way to try to change minds is to understand and recognize their concerns rather than assume they are heartless and "just don't get it" (I'm not necessarily saying that you do assume this, but some people do) To be useful in the debate or helpful educating people, you have to know what the concerns are.
posted by mjcon at 8:32 AM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

You could write up your own personal experiences (or at least of those you know in the UK) with the NHS and compare/contrast it with your experience of the American system. There is a lot of misinformation and myths going around about the public health systems of other industrialized countries so you could try and counter that somehow.
posted by shoebox at 8:54 AM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thirding decathecting: we don't need more rage and frustration in this discussion, as there is clearly plenty of that on both sides.

I lean right on most issues-- including this one-- and the fastest way to turn me off is to call me greedy or selfish, or accuse me of being in some company's pocket. Name-calling will not persuade anyone of your views; arming yourself with facts and treating people with opposing perspectives civilly will go a lot further.
posted by gushn at 9:20 AM on August 12, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks guys -- especially about the rage and the education stuff. I worry I came across a bit strong :) While it's an issue near and dear to my heart, I have no desire to turn it into a screaming fight. (Any anger I do have, I prefer to channel, rather here and be angry. Because you and I know that that doesn't result in anything.) Part of why I asked this was to get involved, and not just stew in my own juices, so to speak.

Thanks for the ideas!
posted by kalimac at 9:48 AM on August 12, 2009

It seems like you've got a great opportunity to discuss the NHS with people that have spent their lives with the system. You can figure out what they think are the good and bad points of socialized medicine, in theory and in practice. The NHS isn't without its detractors. I know some of my UK friends have issues with the quality and consistency of care.

Full disclosure: While I like the idea of universal healthcare in theory, although I would not go so far as to call it a right, I have absolutely no confidence at all in the US government's ability to actually do healthcare well.
posted by 6550 at 10:08 AM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

You referenced 'organizing,' so I guess you're already familiar with Organizing for America and Rules for Radicals. Both are good resources to check out if you're not.

As for more specific ideas, here are some off the top of my head:
- Start a blog/investigative series about NHS in Wales/Health Care Reform/your job. Talk to people about their experiences, and report back. (youtube interviews?) Make it accessible and functional for people who aren't used to following things online. Tell your friends and family members back home about it, mirror installments and regular updates to your facebook/address book contacts. Encourage them to comment and share their thoughts.
- Writer letters to the editor. CC them to your representative.
- There are reports of paid trolls. Maybe you can do it pro-bono for some equal opportunity signal to noise ratio. (obviously not at places that skew liberal anyway like metafilter, livejournal, or twitter, but the comment sections of newspaper websites, for example.)

I live in Canada, and at most social gatherings I've been to these days there is an appearance from That Wacky American furious about health care in the States. As amusingly horrifying as their anecdotes are, they probably serve to confirm everyone's suspicions about awful and backwards the US is. Of course, maybe you don't mind being That Wacky American, but just a heads up about the trend.
posted by dustyasymptotes at 2:27 PM on August 12, 2009

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