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House of Representatives Public Hearings Done Right

Summary: This week the US Congress televised an extremely compelling hearing on the January 2021 Capitol riot and coup attempt. It may nudge our country toward re-asserting democracy. We need something similarly powerful for single payer.

January 6 hearings: Watch first public House committee hearing on Capitol attack
Streamed live on Jun 9, 2022
USA TODAY

Stephen’s LIVE MONOLOGUE After The January 6th Committee Primetime Hearing
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
June 9, 2022

Comment: by Jim Kahn

We saw on Thursday how to effectively address a major political issue using public hearings in the US House of Representatives. The topic was, of course, the Jan 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, engineered by the then President to try to reverse his November 2020 electoral defeat. The future of US democracy is at stake. The hearings combined new information, insider debunking of the election fraud narrative, forceful oratory and affecting video footage, and testimony (both live and recorded) to powerfully advance truth and the integrity of our governance system. You can watch the full two hours, or Stephen Colbert’s excellent 10-minute summary.

The House learned well from special counsel Robert Mueller’s halting and ineffective 2019 testimony about his team’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections. In pleasing contrast, this week’s event was properly and professionally handled as a critical opportunity to persuade the American people. Compelling revelations were delivered using equally compelling production values. It was a spectacle suited to the critically important issue.

How would a similar spectacle look for single payer?

Here are a few ideas. (Disclaimer: I’m definitely not a TV producer. I hereby invite a real TV producer to jump in and take over.)

  • Frame as a truly critical issue for our country. Shouldn’t be too hard: our health is suffering, with longevity falling, and our financial security is constantly at risk.
  • Persuasive orators. Bernie comes to mind. And Pramila Jayapal.
  • Whistleblowers, revealing the truth of the inside game. Wendell Potter would be a fine choice.
  • Startling revelations. Perhaps the 100,000 or so who die annually from being un- or under-insured. Not a new fact, but new to the public.
  • Compelling witnesses revealing the system’s harm. How about a few of the many thousands who went medically bankrupt?
  • A clear villain. Could be the health insurance CEOs making tens of millions of dollars by denying access to care.
  • Individuals from the political center or right who speak truths about our health care problems. Like business owners who struggle to insure their employees.
  • Exciting video. Perhaps an anguished family who recently lost a loved one due to financial barriers to care. Or the National Mall packed with hundreds of thousands of doctors in white coats, demanding health care justice.

Let’s elevate single payer to a prime-time national event and reveal the truth behind our inexcusable, deadly, and undemocratic health care system.

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