voices.washingtonpost.com — Last week, the Health Care for America Now coalition celebrated its first birthday. Formed, well, a year ago, with an initial infusion of $40 million and a coalition list that includes MoveOn.org, SEIU, the Campaign for America's Future, and pretty much every other institution even vaguely on the left, HCAN has quickly become the dominant grassroots player on health-care reform. Which is really saying something.
Talk to veterans of the 1994 effort and they will invariably lament the total absence of a liberal ground game. The grassroots energy came primarily from conservative groups and trade organizations. The National Federation of Independent Business was, for instance, very effective at influencing legislators. So too was the Chamber of Commerce. There was no analogue on the left. Unions were exhausted and angry after the NAFTA battle. All-purpose progressive organizations like MoveOn.org and Campaign for America's Future were largely non-existent. The conservatives dominated talk radio, but liberals did not have the online organizing infrastructure that they've utilized so successfully in recent years.
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