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This Twitter Thread Captured a Spontaneous Health Care Rally at the US Capitol, & It Was Beautiful

Something really beautiful happened on the steps of the United States Capitol last night. It started with two politicians and a Facebook live stream. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Georgia Rep. John Lewis sat on the steps around sunset and talked into an iPhone about President Donald Trump’s healthcare plans and its effect on Americans. It was a really organic, simple moment streamed on Facebook. 

A small crowd began to gather around them. More senators joined, including Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Brian Schatz of Hawaii. Meanwhile, about 20 people stopped to listen. The crowd eventually grew—hundreds of people got on their feet and started roaring, and a spontaneous rally began with people standing side by side with their elected representatives. And Ben Wikler, of the independent online political group MoveOn.org, captured the whole thing on Twitter.

Wikler highlighted the truly moving symbolism behind this unplanned gathering—it’s very “by the people, for the people” as the American founders originally planned government to be. 

So why the need for this Facebook Live event at all? It comes after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office announced that a current Senate bill, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare), would actually leave 22 million more people without health insurance by 2026. 

Basically, the health care debate is really messy. The Republican plan cuts $541 billion in taxes over 10 years, according to The New York Times. But 15 million more Americans would be uninsured next year. The bill would cut $772 million from Medicaid, which helps the elderly and poor, even though Trump previously tweeted that there would be no cuts to Medicaid. There’s also uncertainty about Trump’s own thoughts on the bill—he allegedly called the House bill “mean” and said the Senate bill should be “more generous.”

Now even some Republicans are saying they will vote against debating the bill, including Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Dean Heller of Nevada. Groups have been planning a People’s Filibuster to protest “Trumpcare” over three days at the Capitol, but it started early since it spontaneously formed last night, according to Wikler’s tweets. Wikler reported that people began sharing personal stories, like a refugee who got cancer only a week before she was set to graduate, but survived due to Medicaid. 

We can be proud as Americans that we have representatives who fight for our beliefs, and that we have the ability to join them in rallies to voice our opinions and share stories together. And it really is a testament to the power of social media—this all began with Booker’s iPhone video and spread even further because of Wikler’s Twitter feed. Let’s hope this message of unrehearsed unison will resonate with politicians of all parties to protect Americans’ best interests. 

Lindsay was the president/editor-in-chief of the UCLA chapter of Her Campus from 2015-2018. She was previously the Viral Section Editor at Her Campus and an Editorial Intern at the headquarters in Boston. Lindsay grew up in Washington state and transitioned to love the Southern California sunshine while studying communications and environmental science at UCLA. Twitter: @WeinbergLindsay.
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