If you want to stop Trumpcare from passing the Senate, the most important thing you can do right now is punish the House. Don’t rush to the Senate. First you have to ravage the House. That might seem counterintuitive. The House vote is over. The Senate is the next step. But the truth is that the public’s immediate response to the House vote will set the stage for everything that happens next.
What Republicans want most right now is momentum. They want a “win” and they want positive press coverage. If there are no immediate, visceral, visible consequences for House Republicans who voted to take away health care for a minimum of 24 million people, then that narrative will predominate. But if constituents rise up in outrage, a very different story could take hold. Instead of momentum, this narrative could revolve around a much darker theme: blowback.
For every resistance activist with a Republican representative the number one priority, starting now, should be ensuring that the Trumpcare vote blows up in the GOP’s face. That means targeting the House first and demonstrating that a vote for the AHCA is career suicide. GOP phones should ring off the hook. District offices should be jammed full of angry constituents. Every town hall should be packed with furious overflow crowds.
If you care about this, don’t finish reading this article. Take out your phone, right now. Set a calendar reminder for 10 am Eastern for every business day. Then write out a list of reasons why you’re livid about the GOP’s health bill and how it would affect you, your family and people you know. Then call every day when your calendar reminds you. And each time you call, tell a different story and explain another reason for your fury. Don’t stop calling until you run out of reasons — even if the health care fight has faded from the news. Post on Facebook to tell friends that you just did these things, and urge them to do the same. Every member of Congress who voted for Trumpcare should feel like they’re walking into a political buzz saw.
The public’s reaction to the House vote — the visibility and vehemence of our collective response — is a story that political reporters nationwide will be covering intently. And more importantly, it’s a story that Republican senators will be monitoring. For the next few weeks, they’re not likely to do anything public on this — they’re reportedly writing their own bill, not considering the House version. And unlike members of the House, they’re not going on recess until the end of the month. But House Republicans have a 10-day recess that has already begun. They’re home. And that means they’re now vulnerable to their constituents, and to news cameras documenting their interactions with those constituents.
Sure, it’s never too soon to ratchet up pressure on senators. But it’s much too soon to take the spotlight off the House. Don’t move on. Don’t let them off the hook. Pulverizing the House sets the stage for a necessary takeover in 2018. But it also has more immediate consequences. It sends a message that should send chills down the spine of Senate Republicans: They’re next.