I attended the #OurFirstStand rally to save healthcare in Boston this past Sunday, put on by Bernie Sanders group Our Revolution featuring Mayor Marty Walsh, and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey. That’s a photo of Senator Warren speaking to the crowd, one of the two pictures I took before my camera died.
Some quick notes:
– As the photo might indicate, turnout was strong especially considering how cold it was. I was also impressed with how well run it was – everything went off on time and with good support in place. I’ve worked campaign events before and they can be so chaotic. This one was totally professional.
– The overall mood of the crowd was subdued, not so much angry as looking for answers and direction. The question seemed to be, “What should we do?”
– Warren is effective as a litigator and a fighter. Senator Markey described her well when he said, “When Republicans see Elizabeth coming for them, they usually hide under their desk.” That said, I am not wowed with her public speaking skills. She’s more a lawyer than a Martin Luther King type, inspiring people with high flying rhetoric. She probably knows this and that’s why she spoke before Markey.
She also has a lot of public recognition. In back of me passerby were saying, “Hey, that’s Elizabeth Warren” and stopping to listen.
– I was impressed with Ed Markey’s speaking. I had never seen or heard from him before. He’s forceful like Biden or Teddy Kennedy, an old school Irish Catholic Democrat. When he speaks, people stand up and cheer. He’s the emotional counterpoint to Warren’s more cerebral approach.
– Healthcare is hard to rally around as it’s so abstract. In terms of messaging, Democrats need to simplify their language. “Medicare for All” is easy to understand, “single payer” less so. Complexity is bad.
The rally featured one woman whose mother was diagnosed with cancer and was saddled with thousands of dollars of bills. Stories like that are effective because they show how healthcare polices affect people as people, not as abstract statistics. That was solid and we need more of that.
– It was uplifting was seeing Democratic leaders getting back in touch with their grassroots supporters. That way they can see what resonates with voters and create a feedback loop with them rather than relying on consultants to provide interpretation.
More rallies like this one please. It is the way forward.