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Be An August Activist

I am writing this on August 3, 2009. The House of Representatives is closed for vacation. The Senate is still working, but not on health care reform. The several bills that have passed through Senate committees are on hold until September, when our elected representatives will return to tweak them into even more complicated examples of compromise and deal-making. As of right now, we may not wind up with a good final bill.

But there is still time to do something about that. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has spoken of the "shock and awe" ad campaigns that the Republicans are ready to set off -- designed to scare Americans into thinking that health care reform will mean giving up necessary medical operations and killing off old people to save on costs.

Pelosi also promised a "drumbeat across America" from Democrats, in response to those ads. If you believe that the current health care system in our country is unsustainable, you must be part of that drumbeat.

Here's how to do it. Become an August activist. All you need is a phone and your elected officials' phone numbers, which you can find at the website Congress.org, simply by entering your zip code. Call your Congresspeople and tell them what you want.

Tell them you are not going to be swayed by fear-mongering. Tell them you are eager for real reform. If you want a public option, tell them so. Don't be afraid. The person on the other end of the line may ask for your name and address, but thatís just so your elected official can add you to his or her list of concerned constituents. No one is going to place you on an enemies list.

If you would rather write than call, Congress.org also gives you the addresses of your Congresspeople. Make your letter clear and concise. Establish yourself as an intelligent, concerned constituent, and tell your representative what you want. Briefly explain why you want it.

The web site WhiteHouse.gov contains a handy list of Health Insurance Consumer Protections, which you can mention in your call or letter.

Calls and letters really mean something to elected officials. That's why many activist groups passionately devoted to health care reform, such as MoveOn.org and HealthCareforAmericaNow.org, are asking people to write or call their representatives.

Politicians know about the surveys showing that over seventy percent of Americans support a public option, but until they know that their constituents support it, they will not feel their backs up against the wall.

So, go to Congress.org right now and become an August activist. As President Obama said in his inaugural address, we must "begin again the work of remaking America." So, letís get to work, Americans.

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