Strategist takes hard line on public policy

Washington, a political strategist, teaches students about policy values. (Vicki Wang / Photo Assistant)

This past Thursday, Sept. 26, Don Washington, a political strategist, informed students on how to be an advocate for public policy, and how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was passed through this process.

Washington began the presentation by stating that he was here to direct “not a class, but a tutorial” on advocating for public policy.

“If you aren’t at the table discussing policy, you have no say in what happens,” Washington said.

The content of the presentation consisted of a series of interactive exercises, explaining the “public policy continuum,” the differing viewpoints of the supporters and opponents of the PPACA, and a history lesson on national medical care.

The substance of the PPACA was also discussed, but Washington did not address nor endorse his personal views on the subject.

Washington quickly got the attendees actively involved, pointing to different sections of the room and labeling them as specific viewpoints on health care in the United States, with all students in attendance moving to the parts of the room designed according to their personal viewpoints.

The final part of the presentation was a game of “Affordable Care Act Jeopardy” where Washington asked questions to six of the students about the content of the PPACA and about national health care statistics in a short competition to see who knew more.

Washington revealed that many of the writers he knew worked on creating the PPACA were hired by corporations and law firms.

Washington expressed a bit of frustration in presenting this information. He explained the conflict of interest for companies hiring people who were most aware of how to exploit the corporate loopholes in the PPACA.

“Somewhere there’s a guy with a long black robe laughing manically at the genius of it,” Washington said.

When the presentation was over, Washington stated that he did not judge the success of it based on his ability to get messages across.

“I wanted to get them to think,” he said.  “And I want people to remember (what they learned). I wanted to come across clear. You need to be involved, and you need to be aware. These laws are for real. They may seem far away but they’re not.  I want them to just be public participants.”