Thursday, August 13, 2009

President Obama's Portsmouth Town Hall's one thing I've got to say: I never said this was going to be easy. I never said change would be easy. If it were easy, it would have already been done. Change is hard. And it doesn't start in Washington. It begins in places like Portsmouth, with people... who have the courage to share their stories and fight for something better.

That's what we need to do right now. And I need your help. If you want a health care system that works for the American people as well as it works for the insurance companies, I need your help -- knocking on doors, talking to your neighbors. Spread the facts. Let's get this done.

President Barack Obama, Portsmouth, NH, August 11, 2009

Tuesday, August 11 was an exhilarating and gratifying occasion for President Obama's long-time supporters in the Seacoast region. Although stalwart health care voters who showed up for early morning rallies at Portsmouth High and Lafayette Park got a good soaking from an unexpected downpour (while those waiting in long lines to get into the Town Hall event later in the day sweltered in the searing heat), the take-away from the day's events was that local support for the President's agenda for health insurance reform remains strong.

Outside the venue, Tea Party protesters turned out in force to fear-monger and voice their radical opposition to change, while inside the Portsmouth High School gym President Obama calmly debunked groundless right-wing claims that creating a public health insurance option will destroy the private insurance industry, and that the U.S. House of Representatives voted for "death panels" that will be authorized to "pull the plug on grandma because we've decided it's too expensive to let her live."

This week, the White House launched a new web site, Health Care Reform Reality Check, to actively counter misinformation spread by health care reform opponents ( Visit the site for talking points and more factual information you can use when talking to neighbors and co-workers about why you support President Obama's goal to pass meaningful health care reform this year.

From making hand-lettered rally signs to staffing the Sunday night phone bank to notify Town Hall ticket holders when & where to pick up their much-sought-after tix, local volunteers were instrumental to making the event a success. On Friday and Saturday, Seacoast volunteers also collected over 500 declarations in support of President Obama's priorities for health care reform. Thanks to everyone who volunteered during the lead up to the event and all those who helped out on the big day. I'm incredibly proud of how quickly and efficiently we were able to mobilize our local team to support White House advance operations. (An NHPR reporter covered our pre-event preparations; you can listen to the story here.) Special shout out to Dave O'Connor, our new Regional Field Director for Organizing for America NH, who worked tirelessly to keep up with the mercurial needs of White House advance staff and pulled it all together on extremely short notice. Change That Works/NH for Health Care organizers, NHDP, and other coalition groups get credit for turning out hundreds of pro-health care reform demonstrators to counteract the the hateful noise and rage of Tea Party protesters with the message that we can't wait for health care reform that includes a public plan option. (For more of Walter Weizenauer's photo from the rallies and Town Hall event, visit his flickr album.)

As President Obama remarked on Tuesday, change is hard - and it begins right here. Organizing for America and Change That Works will be planning a number of outreach events and actions in the coming weeks - please participate, because the status quo isn't working for you, it's not working for our community, and it's not working for New Hampshire families and small businesses. It's time to get this done.