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About 35 people showed up at noon Thursday to Claire McCaskill’s St. Louis office at a rally organized by MoveOn. (There was another event at Bond’s office at the same time. Lotsa luck, folks, making inroads there.) After some of the attendees told the group their own hard luck health care stories, we presented a petition with about 2,000 signatures gathered online to Michelle Sherod, one of Claire’s staffers. The petition urged McCaskill to stand strong for a public option and resist letting it be watered down.

Ironies abounded in two of the stories that people had to tell. LaDonna Appelbaum works in the health care industry. And has no health care. This is a woman who’s not afraid to let her feelings show on the subject. She wants health care NOW.

As we head into the final two or three months of the push to get health care reform, here’s the message I’d like to convey to Claire: Do more than plan to vote for a strong public option. Be active. Beat the drums for it. Speak up at every opportunity. And make opportunities to speak up.

Because a strong public option is a foot in the door that might eventually open onto single payer. A strong public option–none of this co-op nonsense!–is the minimum. Once we have that, perhaps it will be–as it has been for other nations–just the starting point.