Protests and sit-ins at lawmakers’ offices may not be enough to compete with a crowded news cycle.
Senate Republicans could be on the verge of passing legislation to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law, the Affordable Care Act. The question for liberal activists who want to stop that from happening is whether the rest of the country will be paying attention.
Activists must contend with crowded news cycles and limited opportunities to lobby lawmakers face-to-face. In the past week alone, President Trump has overtaken headlines by feuding with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the co-hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and criticizing the broader media, while news that North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile raised alarm throughout the United States.
Tactically, the bill’s opponents can’t rely on town halls alone as a venue for drawing attention to their cause. Town-hall protests helped stall an early iteration of the House health-care bill, but many Republican senators have opted not to hold them during the July 4 recess. The Washington Post noted on Tuesday that more senators “joined a delegation to Afghanistan this week than scheduled town halls.”
One tactic activists are now trying is protesting at the offices of Republican senators in their home states. Progressive groups, including Our Revolution, the organization launched by Bernie Sanders, have organized sit-ins in 21 states on Thursday at lawmakers’ offices.