1. Tonight, something kinda magical happened on the steps of the Capitol. It started like this: pic.twitter.com/9HDvz4K4W6— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) June 27, 2017
As politicians continue to mull over the polarizing Senate healthcare bill, a profound Capitol Hill moment is uplifting those who have lost hope due to the current political climate. On June 26, Senator Cory Booker and Representative John Lewis sat down on the steps of the Capitol Building to discuss the healthcare proposal via Facebook livestream.
What started as a candid conversation among two political leaders, however, quickly turned into a beautiful public forum as hundreds of people joined in. Ben Wikler, a director at MoveOn, captured the start of the conversation, but then went about his evening. Shortly thereafter, he returned to find that a crowd had gathered. Not only that, but senators including Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Jeff Merkley stopped by, as well.
6. The person I was trying to meet up with told me he was on the East Capitol steps on the Senate side. I found him, and saw this: pic.twitter.com/WkXG5vIWas— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) June 27, 2017
According to Wikler, the spontaneous gathering allowed people to share their stories and ask questions about the healthcare system. In a tweet, he said it felt "totally real. Organic, spontaneous. Senators kept drifting out. Passers-by kept wandering over and sitting down."
19. People told their stories. A refugee diagnosed with cancer weeks before her graduation, alive now thanks to Medicaid.— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) June 27, 2017
20. A child of immigrants, born with a rare disease, now healthy and an organizer fighting for justice for all—preexisting conditions or no.— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) June 27, 2017
21. People asked how they could fight. We shared ways to do it. Come protest at the Capitol this week. Protest at local offices. Make calls.— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) June 27, 2017
"We cannot as individual Americans allow our inability to do everything to undermine our determination to do something."
Ultimately, the impromptu meeting gave everyday people a welcoming setting to engage with politics in a tangible way and share their feelings about the proposal. The livestream lasted nearly four hours and is filled with appearances from entire families, teenagers, activists, and political leaders.
Though many moments are compelling, Booker's closing statement is really worth watching. He ended the gathering by saying: "This is one of those moments in American history that generations to come are going to look back and wonder, where were you? We cannot as individual Americans allow our inability to do everything to undermine our determination to do something — something in the cause of justice and something in the cause of our country." Watch his statement, about three hours and 36 minutes into the livestream, below.
Health care is a human right. So this week we face a defining moment: we are perhaps days away from a vote on a devastating health repeal bill in the United States Senate that threatens the health and financial security of millions of Americans. We must fight harder for the American people who will suffer, who will get sicker, who will lose loved ones if the Senate Republican plan goes through. Because right now, the fate of millions of Americans and future generations are at stake in this fight – a fight Americans cannot afford to lose. Congressman John Lewis said it well: “Affordable health care is the birthright of every American. At stake are not just the details of policy but the character of our country.” So John Lewis and I are going to sit down on the Capitol steps for a while to protest Senate Republican’s efforts to repeal health care and give voice to millions of Americans who believe that affordable health care is a human right. Watch, share & join us.Posted by Cory Booker on Monday, June 26, 2017