August is a battleground.

Congress has gone back to their states on vacation without passing health care reform. They’re going to hear from their constituents. That means you and me. It also might mean the crazy, lobbyist funded, insurance industry supported, potentially violent right-wing.

There is no doubt the birthers and the tea baggers partiers are going to be out in force. They have a dedicated plan to disrupt and harass Members of Congress in August, complete with methods for inflating their numbers and out-shouting their opposition. They’ve already started to inflate their presence at town hall events. We must be there to counter them.

Jon Cohn explains the battlefield:

A lot of this will be classic astroturf organizing, in some cases bankrolled by the health care industry. But these outbursts will be effective all the same. A big reason getting health legislation through the House was harder than expected was the experience freshmen and moderate Democrats had in early July, after voting for a cap-and-trade bill. When they returned to their districts, all they heard was complaints–in many cases, angry complaints.

Now the right has a chance to channel that anger before a final vote is cast. And so the question going forward is, will the left answer it?

Lately, there’s been a lot of Monday Morning Quarterbacking of how the Democratic Party leadership, and Obama in particular, have handled the reform debate. As the new conventional wisdom goes, the president got too wonky and gave Congress too much leeway. For the record, I agree with most of that. (In fact, I think I wrote something to that effect once or twice in the last few weeks myself.) And I was pleased to see the White House shift its messaging just in the last few days, to focus more on the tangible benefits–the “goodies”–that reform would offer every American. (More on those shortly.)

But let’s not kid ourselves about why health reform has suddenly hit a rough patch. This was always going to be difficult. No strategic genius can overcome the fact that our political system is hostile to change, particularly liberal change, given both the power of money in politics and the small-state, conservative weighting of the Senate. Passing reform was never going to be possible without a groundswell of support–a bigger groundswell than we’ve seen so far.

True, groups on the left are better organized–far better organized–than they were last time around, when President Bill Clinton tried to pass reform and found himself fighting that battle almost alone. Labor unions and groups like Health Care for America Now have both money and a plan for getting out their own message. The old Obama campaign machine, now called Organizing for America, is also kicking into gear. This will be its first (and, if unsuccessful, perhaps its last) test as an apparatus that can pass legislation as well as elect a president.

He’s right – we are organized. But organization only gets us so far. The question is: Will you be there to support health care reform?

Firedoglake is tracking events with Members of Congress throughout August. Call up your Members of Congress, find out their schedule, and enter their events so we all know about it. Events are also going up on the Health Care for America Now website as we speak, with more being added all the time. As more events become public, the lists will become more comprehensive.

So, once again, will you be there to support health care reform? Congress is back home, ready to listen. Who will they hear? Us, or them?

(also posted at the NOW! blog)

I’m proud to work for Health Care for America Now

Jason Rosenbaum

Jason Rosenbaum

Writer, musician, activist. Currently consulting for Bill Halter for U.S. Senate and a fellow at the New Organizing Institute.

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