I know, I know. You’re tired of BlogHer talk. One more, I promise. Then back to the whining, which I know you all love and have missed.
On the Wednesday before BlogHer, I got an email from the people at BlogHer asking if I would be interested in a special panel. It was going to be “small” and was therefore by invitation only, and by the way, it was with the Senior Advisor to the President, Valerie Jarrett. The topic was to be healthcare, and I jumped at the offer, if only because I was completely certain that at any moment they’d realize what a horrible mistake they’d made and that they’d rescind my invitation. Oddly, they didn’t.
I didn’t know if I was allowed to tell people about the panel, since it was invite only, but I mentioned it on the snafu limo and let me tell you, those ladies know how to make you even more nervous about an event that your stomach already flips at the thought of.
But Friday at 1:15, I walked nervously into a conference room with 16 other women, grabbed a plate of lunch that I ate almost none of (and later, while listening intently, I licked pasta sauce off my fingers while Valerie was talking, and then tweeted about it, and not one, but two people thought I had licked it off of her fingers, which, in retrospect, would’ve been such a great blog moment.) and sat down to listen.
Valerie asked us each to introduce ourselves, tell her about our blogs and lives and why we were there. She shook our hands, listened to our stories and then we got down to business. (There’s a full recap here, if you want to read all of it.) She spoke for a few minutes on the state of things and then opened up for questions.
I won’t bore you with every detail, partially because I have such an overwhelmingly conservative readership (how did that happen by the way?), and partially because I think the most important ideas were a common thread in each of the questions. And I think that everyone should hear about this. Yes, even you, the staunch Republican reading over there. I’m serious.
Valerie Jarrett is not working just for Democrats. Valerie Jarrett, whether you believe me or not, is working for Americans. She answered difficult questions from women who were fired up and motivated and she let us know that WE were important, that YOU are important.
Loralee, one of the bloggers, told Valerie about how her livelihood was lost to health costs not covered by her health insurance. And she cried, and Valerie did not just listen, but she empathized and consoled Loralee. And when Loralee told Valerie that her husband, a Utah Republican, didn’t think that the Obama administration could or would do anything useful for them, Valerie did something surprising. She handed Loralee (and later Casey) her business card, and told Loralee to have her husband call her on Monday, and they would talk.
Valerie Jarrett was not put off by the fact that Loralee’s husband was a conservative who believed that this suggested health care reform was socialism (it’s not, I know many of you don’t believe me, but truly, if you understand socialized medicine you’d know that this is not it, but that’s neither here nor there), she cared that it impacted a family and wanted to see what she could do to help them. She wanted to hear their concerns and work to alleviate them, to prevent other women from sharing in Loralee and Casey’s woes. She showed how the Obama administration cares, on a VERY personal level, about all of us. Even you, the staunch Republican in the corner.
And she left us with very important suggestions. If you have ideas, concerns, thoughts or anything else in that category, you must make them known. You can stand aside and bitch (okay, maybe she didn’t say that exactly) about something, but that will not get any of us anywhere. There is just no way that your needs and concerns can be represented if you do not make them known. Not even the president is a mind reader.
So what do you do? How can you be a part of this?
Write a blog post about it, leave a comment on this post. Write a letter or email to your congressman, senator, or anyone who represents you. Tell your story, ask your questions, make your concerns known.
Change isn’t a 4 letter word. It’s not a bad thing. It’s necessary. People shouldn’t lose their homes and savings because they can’t afford health insurance. Children shouldn’t go without healthcare because their parents don’t have the money to pay for it nor the information about how to acquire it. I don’t care if you think the President is in kahootz with the devil himself, there is no way you can think that the healthcare system isn’t profoundly broken. It NEEDS reform, but the way that will take shape depends on you and me.
If you want to make your concerns known, or want to know more about it, check out what Erin at Queen of Spain wrote about the experience (she was there and asked my very favorite question of the panel). And get involved. You have no excuse, because healthcare impacts every single one of us, in one way or another.
Help make the future yours. Help this administration serve you, republican or democrat, doctor or patient. Don’t be a part of the problem, be a part of the solution.