California Road Trip, Home in Oregon

Katie Ottaway in Chico

On the “long march” through California this fall (and across the country last fall), with surprising consistency, the size of our audience was inversely proportional to the size of the community.  Indeed, almost three hundred people greeted us for our last event in Chico, far surpassing any of our audiences in L.A.  Perhaps people in smaller towns feel more empowered.  Perhaps webs of relationships are more interconnected.  Who really knows?

During our long drive up I-5 to green Oregon, we pondered another question.  “Was the California Road Trip worth all the effort that went into it?”  The denominator is measurable in money, time, and a substantial carbon footprint.  Measuring the numerator is more elusive.   By most accounts, the MAHD Road Show was entertaining and many people deepened their understanding of why our sick care non-system remains profoundly broken.  We made new friends in every community.   We gained greater clarity.  We had fun and we consumed our share of margaritas.  But what energy did we leave in our wake as we moved to from town to town?  Is anybody we touched even reading this?   If so, please respond.  Your perspective is valuable.

I know it feels better to toil in futility than wallow in defeat.  I’d like to think we are tilting at windmills.  More accurately, we are storming the Bastille with rubber spears.   We aren’t going to make real progress until there are masses of people who understand the health care conundrum as we do.  How do we create a wider and wider web of relationships to make this happen?  How do we get the right kind of media attention, long enough, to explain the flavor and texture of the real health care debate that needs to progress beyond the sound bites that feed people’s fears?   Lots of questions.  Not many good answers.

In any case, it’s nice to be home with the family.

–paul hochfeld

3 Responses

  1. I’m a physician with a new passion for healthcare reform and as a specialist – orthopedics – I have a well-informed and revealing message about doctors as cost-drivers for the current crisis. I’m an active member of PNHP, and I’m looking for like-minded health professionals and activists to share this message with. Please contact me at for more details, and to see if we can work together. Thanks!

  2. Kevin Miller

    Thank you for spending your time and energy to come down to California. As to whether it was worth it: I personally benefitted. My participation in your presentations drew me more deeply into the cause, and I assume that was the same for some others who shared their mad as hell minute or asked a question in the audience. It wasn’t the final blow that toppled the status quo, but it laid groundwork.

  3. Paulina Conn

    Don’t be discouraged. Your California trip was worth it. We in Santa Barbara were so very grateful to have all of you, the real, live, bona fide, fighting mad doctors REALLY participating, speaking out ( not hiding), and marching for this difficult civil, moral,and financial rights issue called single payer health care. It is your effort, the effort by nurses, and hopefully one day the voices of hospital administrators that will make ordinary folks see the logic and superiority of single payer, single risk pool health care. Meanwhile, we in Health Care for All – CA will continue to have forums, talk one on one, and increase membership in our organization so one day you, we, and all the social justice advocates and fiscal conservatives will be united for single payer. The Austrian Libertarian, Hayek believed government needed to be involved in health care. There is hope.

    Thank you all for sharing your time, knowledge and fun with all of us in California. Many thanks to Phillip Kaufman too for keeping you and us coordinated.

    Best Wishes,
    Paulina Conn,
    HCA- Santa Barbara Chapter