A sign asking AOC to #ForceTheVote

Why did I organize a #ForceTheVote Protest

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#ForceTheVote was an idea started by YouTube podcaster Jimmy Dore and taken up by social media and grassroots activists to persuade  Congressional Progressive Legislators to withhold their support from Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House, as a negotiation tactic, in order to force her to hold a vote for Medicare-For-All.  

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

Frederick Douglass 

 Human emotions are a natural motivator for change. My motivation was watching my father dying of gastric cancer while spending most of my time talking to the medical insurance company. The day he took his last gasp of air, I was on the telephone sitting by his bedside. My aunt’s husband, standing on the other side, was the one who told me to get off the phone – my father had just died.  

When I heard Jimmy Dore’s campaign to #ForceTheVote, I jumped on the chance to see what I could do. My fellow progressive friend, Janet Goodman, and I wrote a letter to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and placed it on social media. Then, since AOC’s Bronx office is within walking distance from my apartment, I got the idea to film ourselves reading the letter with a couple of banners hung on the office gate. The banners addressed AOC and the newly elected representative member Jamaal Bowman, appealing to their constituents and other citizens to contact them.  

Though our protest was small, I believe we contributed to the mosaic of a larger movement. I like to think we’re the tiny tick that reminds the government that we are here and will not leave them alone.  

Still, I wished it was larger. The short notice prohibited some from attending, which was understandable. However, the most frustrating was hearing from those who consider themselves “radicals” making excuses – ranging from not believing in the tactic to assuming our representatives know better than those on the ground. Even though our letter was fully respectful, we were adamant that the progressive representatives were missing a chance to turn the screw and exert their strength.  

We were told we should wait for committee appointments while back-door negotiations were ongoing – that it was not the right time. When human life is treated like a commodity, however, waiting is not a viable option. When death is near, there is no time for the right time.  

In the end, Fredrick Douglass’s famous quote, “Power concedes nothing without a demand,” was ignored. The progressive legislators demanded nothing and, other than a symbolic concession, they got nothing.  

Some might say the protest was a waste of time, but we beg to differ. #ForceTheVote showed that progressive legislators have the power but are often convinced not to use it. It showed that we, the people, are the only ones that are going to bring change – and it showed that we can’t depend on politicians to save us. “#ForceTheVote” was also forced into the political lexicon; AOC used the same term when she argued for Trump’s impeachment a few weeks later.  

There is no one way to organize. Writing, marching, making banners, social media, and connecting with other people are all effective ways to bring about needed change; however, the most important thing to know is what motivates you. Mine was being placed on hold by the medical insurance company while my father laid on a bed dying and living with the guilt of not being fully there with him when he finally passed away.  

Why did I organize a #ForceTheVote protest?   

Because life is fleeting, and we can’t …wait! 

Our Video was made by Democrats & Greens- all Bronxites

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