ACORN had a few workers spending Friday afternoon in front of the Culture Cafe on Delmar in St. Louis, buttonholing passersby to see if they wanted to sign a petition in favor of the health care legislation. When I was there around three this afternoon, the owner of the cafe, who favors such reform, had a grill set up on the sidewalk and music was planned for later.
Glenn Burleigh, the St. Louis head organizer for ACORN, (bottom picture) set up the event to spread information and stymie teabaggers. He figured, how are they going to target us when we’re here from noon til seven, just a few of us? He said one teabagger showed up early on with a camcorder, apparently planning to kick up a fuss and post something on his angry blog, but he couldn’t drum up any friction. The workers just ignored him.
Burleigh told me what he wished Missouri congressmen would plan to promote health insurance reform. If they’re going to have town halls, he told me, they need to do it like Joe Sestak did in Pennsylvania: plan it far in advance so that H-CAN has time to organize a strong enough progressive presence that the naysayers are marginalized and just look foolish. That takes about three weeks.
What’s fast, though–and H-CAN people have been urging Claire to do it–is a teleconference call. It’s easy to organize and easy to control.
The most effective tool for making Americans understand what the legislation is about, according to Burleigh, would be a direct mailing. But that’s very expensive, and right now Democratic deep pockets are pretty well tapped out. They put their money into the election and then into funding H-CAN. Maybe the DNC could come up with the cash. The chain e-mail is a start, he thinks, but lots of people don’t get their news off the internet. Or if they do, they might not happen to get the e-mail anyway.
I think that if every voter read that chain e-mail, the teabagger’s lies and hoopla would sink like a barrel of stolen tea, because the e-mail succinctly explains what’s going on. That’s the nub of the problem, though: how do we get the word out?