Sunday, March 21, 2010

McGovern on Storytelling at the House Rules Committee

I have written about the power of personal stories on multiple occasions. Personal stories make abstract issues like health care reform real. They paint a picture, like a good author detailing the numerous traits of a single brick in a wall. And storytelling creates empathy amongst neighbors. Last night, we heard plenty of personal stories, from one side of the aisle.

The other side was noticeably absent from that form of debate. Republicans offered vague references of seniors who would be taxed more if the reforms go through, leaving out that they would have to be making over 250k/year for that to happen. Vague stories of the struggle that could be caused by these reforms. Whereas the Democrats offered stories of daughters with preexisting conditions and sisters denied care the same day her family's premiums go up.

Afterward, I asked Congressman McGovern for his thoughts on this. “They don’t have the stories,” he told me. Then the Congressman threw out a few examples of the stories from individuals that Republicans are defending: insurance company executives complaining about smaller profits, big contributors with less to give to the RCCC. Real tearjerkers.

“This is very personal for many of us,” he added. McGovern told me they hear all kinds of stories from constituents then he immediately jumped into one of an individual from his state who suffered to get adequate care because the problems were arguably dental, and not covered.

Storytelling has, undoubtedly, been the staple of the health care movement and will surely go far to reinforce the belief many organizers have that there is nothing more powerful than and individual's personal experience. As Congress prepares to pass this historic health care legislation, I thank all those folks who told their health care stories to us.

Feel free to tell your story, or the story of a loved one in the comments.
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