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Message in a bottle from Hawaii

I’ve been following the Health Care debate since about the middle of the Democratic presidential primary, when all the candidates first announced their plans for how to change things if elected. In that almost two years, I’ve heard a lot about these things: the public option, town hall meetings, teabaggers, Stephen Hawkings, and endless coverage of the National government as if the whole thing were a sports competition about number of Red or Blue votes rather than an important public discussion.

What I didn’t know, until I watched the Daily Show from Feb, 11, 2010, is anything about Hawaii’s health care system, which apparently has achieved almost universal health care coverage via government mandate and has been using this system for the last 40 years. Until that minute I thought there was nothing in the debate that could surprise me anymore.

When Dog the Bounty Hunter, one of the Hawaiians interviewed on the Daily Show’s Hawaii coverage, has a better ability to express the need for health care than the politicians and media personalities whose job it has been to talk about it for the last 18 months, we need to start listening to different people.

I would suggest we start listening to each other.

Here’s the idea. Take $30 but, rather than giving it to a political group or non-profit, go to the store and buy a webcam. Set it up at your computer and record a video on why you care about health care. It can be 30 seconds, 60 seconds, or however long it takes to tell your story.

Public Voices

I’m lucky, my office really cares about making sure we have great health care coverage, but I still have a couple stories to tell about issues my coworkers are having with insurance right now. And then there are all the stories of my friends in their 20’s who are trapped in jobs they would otherwise leave for more rewarding work but can’t for fear of losing health insurance. I have almost as many of those stories as I have friends in their 20’s.

So I’m going to go get a webcam and record a couple minutes worth of video and post it online. Maybe we put the videos on YouTube and tag them “healthcarestories” or maybe one of those non-profits that care about health care will come forward and we can put them all there. Then we watch each other, listen to each other, and vote for the best videos. Find the ones that make you remember why you care.

If we want to influence the “public voices” in broadcast media, we could all throw in a couple dollars and buy some air time for the videos with the most votes. Or maybe that media is hopeless and we run some ads telling people where to come for the sane discussion, like throwing a lifeline to pull people back onto dry land.

Either way, if we can get a million of these video messages in a bottle together, a million people engaged in actually talking about health care rather than screaming about it, we can convince a lot of politicians that their interests lie in listening rather than talking for once.