Rewire: ‘Aquatic Town Hall’ Targets NC Senator’s Lake Home to Protest ACA Repeal
Senator Thom Tillis has been a US Senator for three years. And during those three years, he has failed to hold a town hall to meet with his constituents in person…and his constituents are not happy about it. Tillis claims he’s going to vote for any form of TrumpCare, all while refusing to meet with the people he represents, the people who will be affected by the terrible bill. It’s clear Tillis doesn’t care about the 22 million Americans who will lose coverage under this bill and it’s clear his constituents want to talk to him. That’s why we gathered with North Carolinians who will be affected by TrumpCare in pontoon boats Friday outside of his home on Lake Norman. If he’s not going to voluntarily listen to his constituents, they’re going to come to him and make him listen.
“Tillis’ constituents have been begging him to meet, and he refused,” Brenner said. “If he’s going to vote to take away their health care, the least he can do is listen.”
Earlier in the year, Tillis said he needed some clarifications about how the proposed House bill would deal with pre-existing conditions, a major sticking point for many Americans who might lose coverage simply because they have a previous or ongoing health condition. But Tillis has recently said that he’d be “supportive of anything” to get the Senate version to the 50 votes needed to pass.
There’s been no word on what helped Tillis resolve his previous misgivings, but the coalition that assembled the flotilla believes if he’d listen to them there’d be no way he’d vote to repeal the ACA.
“What we are dealing with here is incredible cruelty,” said Patrick O’Neill, a writer and longtime activist whose daughter has Down syndrome. “For Sen. Tillis to support this monstrous health care bill without holding a single town hall meeting with his constituents shows he couldn’t care less for families like mine.”
Both North Carolina senators—Thom Tillis and Richard Burr—say they will vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. But many of their constituents say they aren’t seeing the whole picture and are valuing businesses over people.
From their aquatic perches, O’Neill and the other protesters chanted, “Thom Tillis, vote no. We’re going to hold you to it,” and “Who deserves health care? We deserve health care!”
After about an hour of protest under the midday July sun, our group adjourned to a nearby boat landing.
Our next steps are clear: We must be ceaseless in our pursuit of actual representation from Tillis and our other representatives in Washington. We will continue to demand town halls, and if we are not answered, we will continue to seek out Tillis wherever he may be—even if that means renting a kayak next time or camping out in front of his district offices.
“All political power comes from the people,” said Fran Schindler, a 78-year-old breast cancer survivor who traveled 200 miles across the state to join the flotilla. “And Tillis must remember that we gave him his power and he is here to represent us. I’ll go to his lake house, his office, his house in D.C. I’ll go anywhere if he would just listen to me.”