If the annual Republican policy retreat in Virginia wasn’t already a train wreck (it literally started with an actual train wreck), things have just gotten even messier.
Enormous crowds of protesters have been gathering in public spaces in Charleston, WV where the GOP is holed up.
The local paper reported a protest of about 150 people outside the Charleston Marriott Hotel last night. Speakers geared up for a march to which 600 people showed up this morning.
HUGE crowd protesting outside the GOP retreat right now. Hell yes ✊ https://t.co/wEif7KLAsP
— Brynna Quillin (@brynnaquillin) February 1, 2018
Eighteen organizations sponsored the march from Dick Gunnoe Memorial Park to the front gates of the Greenbrier, which is owned by Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican.
Organizers said the march is meant to protest potential cuts to the social safety net, including a recent Trump administration policy allowing states to enact Medicaid work requirements.
One protest participant, Jade Jackson of Charlotte, NC, explained who it was really for.
“We’re the majority, not the top 1 percent. It’s no color. It’s not black, it’s not white. It’s not party, if you want to be honest,” she said. “It’s about doing the right thing. The humanitarian thing.”
Jackson is a committee tri-chair with the Poor People’s Campaign.
One organizer said that this march is also meant to dispel the notion that the social safety net is primarily an issue that concerns people of color. The population of West Virginia is primarily white, and yet deeply affected by this issue.
Paul Ryan has been vocal about his desire to reform entitlements like Medicaid and Medicare since late last year when the GOP embarked on the disastrous efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
West Virginians are particularly worried that Republicans will let states mess with work requirements for Medicaid. Activists say that imposing restrictions on access will make it harder for poor people to get access to healthcare and cause needless suffering.
And anyway, ensuring easier access to health care makes people more, not less, likely to seek work.
If the GOP is looking to engage their base, looks like they did it. Just not exactly in the way they were hoping.