State Fair Stories

state_fair_storiesI spent last Sunday helping to staff the Health Care Reform booth at the Nebraska State Fair.  Amid the Mexican cigars, infra-red spas and the only glue you’ll ever need, I stood with information from the American Cancer Society, AARP and Nebraska Appleseed ready to educate the passing fair-goers and advocate for health care reform.  I had braced myself for the angry anti-reformer and though there were a few who chided our cause, the vast majority of people we talked to supported reform and wanted what we had – information.

A few people stopped to press the anti-reform argument and one man told me to “move to Russia” if I wanted affordable health care but over the course of the day, we talked to dozens of people and almost all discussed the issue quietly, thoughtfully and just wanted to know more about the specifics of the plan.   Some had stories to tell.  Others slid up to the table, avoiding our eyes, picking up information, almost embarrassed – yes, they supported health care reform and yes they would sign a post card.   Maybe all the talk of confrontational town halls scared some people.

It was a long day and by the end I was sick of the smell of nail polish from the booth next door and just wanted to crawl into one of the infra-red spas across the aisle.    Over the course of the fair week, we collected over 600 postcards from the quiet, thoughtful and curious majority of those who stopped at the booth. We also gathered video stories from several folks that are part of a national storytelling project called State Fair Stories  The postcards and stories were delivered to Senator Nelson’s office at a press conference on Tuesday.

As our members of Congress return to D.C. it is important that the very real stories of the small business owners, farmers, teachers and health care professionals I heard from at the fair are fresh in their minds. Nebraskans need reform and now is the time to make it happen.

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