Rutland and Arlington, VT - People started arriving for Senator Bernie Sanders Town Meeting on Healthcare in Rutland at 5am this past Saturday. That's four and a half hours before the event was to begin. In total 600 more people arrived, from all over the state for this much anticipated event, where the Vermont conservative right wing hoped to show a huge amount of opposition to any government involvement in healthcare.
When we consider the thousands of Vermonters we have spoken to over the last year doing the Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign (HCisHR), it is actually impressive how many right wing activists showed up for this event. But they were out numbered at least 6-to-1 thanks to the hard work of many, including dozens of HCisHR leaders from Rutland County and across the state who put in countless hours last week mobilizing for this event. Over 300 people had HCisHR buttons on, over 300 people had HCisHR, Single-payer or Medicare For All Signs, and there were dozens of people wearing the HCisHR red t-shirts. Dozens of new people were coming up to the Vermont Workers' Center table outside asking how they can get involved and giving donations. The outpouring of support was overwhelming.
In Arlington, it was more of the same. After spending their morning putting together what would become the first place float in the Bennington Battle Day Parade, the Bennington County HCisHR Organizing Committee had fanned out throughout the crowd of 500+ people who were out in the hot sun for this event. When Senator Sanders asked the crowd "who believes healthcare should be a fundamental basic right for everyone" the crowd overwhelmingly raised their hands and cheered. Many HCisHR leaders spoke out at the events, telling compelling stories about what motivates them to get involved and push for Vermont to lead the way when federal reform falls short of getting to the roots of the healthcare crisis. More than 200 people signed postcards supporting HCisHR and H.100/S.88 and we found many new people excited to join the local organizing committees.
AUGUST 23, NEXT STOP PEACHAM: At 5:30pm there will be another Town Meeting at Peacham Congregational Church, 56 Church Street. We need to keep up the momentum. If you need or can provide a ride, please email james @ workerscenter.org
"Heated Healthcare Debate Reaches Vermont" - WCAX News
"Senator Sanders Put On Hot Seat As Hundreds Turnout To Debate Healthcare" - Rutland Herald
"Healthcare Meetings Lively But Civil" - Burlington Free Press (article and video from Rutland)
CBS Coverage of Arlington Town Meeting (great testimony from Jen Henry, Dave Kacynzski, Erica Rogers)
Sen. Sanders Press Release