Safety Net Defenders met on March 5 to celebrate our achievements and decide on our future. In the end, we voted to dissolve as an official group to focus our political energies on a range of pressing issues.
We started our celebration by reminiscing about some of our more memorable actions in 2017 and 2018:Safety-Nets-deck
The conclusion of all that reminiscing? We did a lot. Really, a lot. We were great!
- Our tombstones and die-ins helped rally people and politicians across the country to save the ACA and Medicaid expansion. Nationally syndicated news photos from those highly visible actions were powerful. They continue to influence the discussion on health care coverage, most recently for universal health care and against drug price-gouging.
- We made important contributions to the national movement that grew into the 2018 Blue Wave. By early 2017, we had initiated letter writing campaigns to activate constituents and pressure politicians to support the ACA. As the Blue Wave built, Safety Net Defenders partnered in actions and canvassing efforts in New York and beyond. In particular, we think our efforts helped sweep Dan Donovan (NY11) and John Faso (NY19) out of office.
- The Safety Nets’ section focused on New York State is working to obtain passage of universal single payer health care via The New York Health Act. This section has grown into a separate #GOBK working group, HEAL NY: The Healthcare Equity Action League. Safety Net Defenders were among those who rallied, canvassed, phone banked and wrote letters in the successful effort to vote out the IDC and turn the State Senate True Blue. Now, through HEAL NY, #GOBK is pushing for passage of The New York Health Act in a State Legislature finally controlled by Democrats.
- Last but not least, we made a lot of great friends and allies, not just within #GOBK but throughout New York and nationally.
So, what’s next?
Since November 2018, most of us have continued our activism. Importantly, though, most of us are no longer focused primarily on health care. We don’t *think* that Republicans will mount a major attack on health care prior to 2020, notwithstanding Trump’s recently proposed budget cuts to the social safety net. But if they do, we will be there. And we’ll be maintaining this email list so we can send you occasional information and action updates on safety net related issues.
#GOBK will continue to have a place for activists who want to focus on health care. HEAL NY is pushing hard this budget session for passage of universal health care in New York State, and it welcomes Safety Net Defenders to join them. Email them at HEALNYnow@gmail.com, join their Google Group or follow the HEAL NY Facebook group. Or, jump right in: HEAL NY is supporting a speaker training hosted by Physicians For a National Health Program (PNHP). The training for everyone who wants to get more comfortable talking about the NY Health Act, Medicare for All, and single payer health care. March 30, 2019 at 10:30am – 4pm, NYU Langone Medical Center, 522 1st Ave. Information and reservations here.
As for Safety Net members’ priorities: at the March 5 meeting, we agreed that turning the Executive and Congress blue in the national 2020 elections is our first concern. Under the current administration, our dreams of health care, economic, social and climate justice will be unachievable; and our existing protections will remain under attack. And even while we build our capacity to impact the elections, we will need to respond to emergencies that arise. So far this year, that includes everything from right-wing terrorism to drug price-gouging to attacks on immigration rights, racial justice, abortion rights, and voting rights.
Our decision to dissolve the Safety Net Defense Group is a decision to become more active, more effective and smarter in how we direct our political energies. Members are moving on in new roles, both within #GOBK and with other progressive organizations. We anticipate that the bonds we have developed with Safety Nets members will persist, and that we will continue to be there, supporting each other, at rallies and in campaigns.
See you soon.
Bryony Romer, #GOBK Facilitator, Safety Net Defense Group
Jerry Polner, Coordinator, Safety Nets’ Targeting Republican Legislators Working Group
Ellen Freudenheim, Coordinator, Safety Nets’ Direct Action Working Group
Polly Beam, Safety Nets’ Delegate, #GOBK Steering Committee