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Small Town Maine Takes to a Bridge for Protest

The towns of Damariscotta and Newcastle, Maine are very small (with populations of just 2,200 and 1,700 people respectively). So are the towns surrounding them. When 180 people turned out to the demonstrate on the bridge connecting the two on a winter’s day, the event was newsworthy.

February 25, 2017 in Damariscotta and Newcastle. Two signs read: Just Try to Grab my Healthcare, and If we Call it TrumpCare can we keep it? Sign in Newcastle, Maine reads: 24 million rely on the Affordable Care Act

Organized by Lincoln County, Maine Indivisible, a spontaneous local group adopting the activist strategy of the Indivisible Guide, this protest was focused on the effort by Republican Party to strip away millions of Americans’ health care.

Sign on the Damariscotta-Newcastle Bridge from Feb. 25 2017 reads Don't Make America Sick Again. Sign on the border of Newcastle and Damariscotta, Maine: Health Care is a Human Right, not a Privilege for the Wealthy

As we stood on the bridge between the two towns, a few of us pulled out our phones and tried calling Senator Susan Collins’ offices to provide on-the-ground feedback. Senator Collins has acted this year to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but hasn’t offered a complete plan to replace it. Her partial plan would let conservative state governments rip people’s health insurance away from them, and here in Maine with paleoGovernor Paul LePage in charge, that danger is not abstract. Actual health insurance would be replaced with Health Savings Accounts, which people working from paycheck to paycheck (thanks to reward-the-rich, soak-the-working-poor Republican policy priorities passed by the likes of Senator Collins) wouldn’t be able to afford.

Signs in Damariscotta, Maine: Everyone Deserves Health Care and Hands Off My Health Care Sign in Lincoln County, Maine: Hands off my Medicare

We weren’t able to actually contact Senator Collins’ Portland or Augusta offices: voicemail boxes were full from constituents who had already been calling her with similar worries, concerns and criticisms. Rather than fixing her voicemail system to allow more people to share voicemail messages, Senator Collins has asked a Maine activist group to help her stop people from calling her offices on the phone.

Sign in Damariscotta Maine, Winter 2017: Speak Truth to Power Sign on the border of Newcastle and Damariscotta, Maine: Hey Congress: You Have it, We Need it, Fix, Don't Repeal, ACA

We did finally get through to Senator Collins’ Washington, DC and Lewiston offices. Not to actual people, mind you, but at least there was some space left on the Senator’s voicemail at those locations. We left voice mail messages with the Senator with this crowd chant: “Susan Collins, Where Are You?” Despite multiple requests by thousands of Mainers for a public town hall, Senator Collins and her staff continue to adamantly refuse to attend them.

180 Mainers Assembled on February 25, 2017 to protest for health care coverage and against Republican cuts

This protest was not alone. More protesters concerned about Susan Collins’ plan and other Republican plans to take away Americans’ health insurance descended upon the state’s capital city of Augusta on the same afternoon. At 3 pm, Bangor residents held a town hall for Republican Representative Bruce Poliquin — who, like his colleague Susan Collins, didn’t show up. One day, these politicians may find themselves feeling compelled to attend public events and listen to their constituents. If they don’t, they may find themselves on the political sidelines, wondering just when it was that the world passed them by.

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Psst... what kind of person doesn't support pacifism?

Fight the Republican beast!