Contrary to critics, Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III offers powerful proof that the Democrats have a strong message on health care: "Our health is our great equalizer ... a shared promise, a common bond."

In the ongoing saga of the Republican crusade to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and ostensibly replace it with something vastly inferior, it is easy to get bogged down in minutiae and numbers.

But what are talking about when we talk about health care?

We are talking about people, about their lives and livelihoods, about their ability not just to survive, but to thrive each and every day.

The details are important — the numbers and the facts matter a great deal, as does the massive opposition — but the human beings behind the data ought to matter even more.

And despite the conventional wisdom many in the media repeat without any basis in fact, the Democratic Party is bringing that message to the people.

On the June 24th episode of MSNBC Live with Alex Witt, the host and her guest, Peter Emerson, lamented the supposed lack of a “strategy” and a “message” from the Democrats to oppose the GOP’s repeal, and to support their own vision for health care.

Interestingly, they were perhaps unknowingly parroting Donald Trump, who claimed in a yet another early-morning tweet that “The Democrats have no message … on failing #Obamacare. They are only OBSTRUCTIONISTS.”

This notion, that Democrats lack any message or “vision” is taken as gospel by many. But it is decidedly untrue.

And Rep. Joe Kennedy III offered a powerful rebuttal to those baseless claims.

In his weekly address, the Massachusetts Democrat recounted a frightening health care experience, one that his family was fortunate to get through relatively unscathed. And he spoke movingly about the true meaning of this whole debate, and about his party’s ceaseless efforts to fight on behalf of the American people.

Kennedy recalled a time, five years ago, when his wife collapsed at work and had to be rushed to the emergency room. “It’s a moment painfully familiar to many,” he said, during which “your brain gets stuck in a highlight reel of worst case scenarios.”

His family was lucky, and his wife was okay. And he noted a crucial fact: “Our health coverage gave us the support we needed to focus on the one thing that mattered most: her recovery.”

That’s what this subject is really about, Kennedy said. “Not buzzwords like ‘CBO scores,’ or ‘growth rates,’ or ‘high-risk pools’ — but the simple ability to keep the people you love safe and healthy and whole.”

In sharp contradiction to that belief, “Trumpcare shatters that proudly American commitment” to care for each other.

“It fundamentally restructures our country’s health care into two systems: One for the powerful and the privileged, the healthy and the wealthy, and another, lesser system for everyone else.”

What House Speaker Paul Ryan calls ‘freedom,’ Kennedy calls ‘agony.’ And what Donald Trump labels as ‘great,’ Kennedy labels as ‘gutless.’

And this country knows better than Ryan or Trump.

Because it doesn’t matter how big or tough or rich or brave you are — you cannot be invincible. Our health is our great equalizer, that stubborn reminder that even the mighty need mercy, that any one of us can fall, and every one of us will. And in those moments, it’s not your bank account or your job or your title, your skin color, your zip code, your religion, your sexuality, or your gender that matters. It’s your humanity.

And Kennedy declared that it is this belief which informs the “Democratic vision of American health care: A shared promise, a common bond, that we fortify not just out of sympathy for the suffering, but so that it’s there for us, too, when we need its sturdy brace.”

And he called on the American people to keep up the fight: “Keep your heads raised, keep your voices loud, help us tell the story of a better, fairer, stronger country.”

Watch his poignant message, take his words to heart — and show it to anyone who tries to tell you that the Democrats don’t have a message. [Full transcript below.]

Hi, everyone. I’m Congressman Joe Kennedy from Massachusetts. Five years ago, I got the call that everyone dreads: my wife, Lauren, had collapsed at work. She was being rushed to the emergency room of a Boston hospital. It’s a moment painfully familiar to many. Time stops. You fight to push your breath down your throat. Your brain gets stuck in a highlight reel of worst case scenarios. You are dazed. You are sick. And you are terrified.

We were among the lucky ones. Lauren was okay. Testing revealed no life-threatening disease or impending danger, no worst nightmare confirmed. Most critically, our health coverage gave us the support we needed to focus on the one thing that mattered most: her recovery. For any family, that’s what health care is about. Not buzzwords like ‘CBO scores,’ or ‘growth rates,’ or ‘high-risk pools’ — but the simple ability to keep the people you love safe and healthy and whole, a commitment that we make to care for each other, because we know that some day, we will need the care, too.

Trumpcare shatters that proudly American commitment. It fundamentally restructures our country’s health care into two systems: One for the powerful and the privileged, the healthy and the wealthy, and another, lesser system for everyone else. It threatens to trap the vast majority of working Americans into a series of excruciating impossible choices: Mortgage or medication, child care or doctor’s visits, being by your loved one’s hospital bed, or keeping your job.

Speaker Ryan calls this ‘freedom.’ I call it agony. President Trump calls it ‘great.’ I call it gutless.

That’s what this bill does. But here’s what this bill means: It means that the biggest, strongest, boldest nation in the world doesn’t think that its people can summon the strength to shoulder a neighbor’s burden. It means that, in your moment of deepest need, your government will tell you that you’re better of on your own than with 320 million Americans fighting by your side.

But this country knows better. This country is better. We take care of each other, we pull for each other. We accept the responsibility that comes from citizenship with pride and with gratitude. Because it doesn’t matter how big or tough or rich or brave you are — you cannot be invincible. Our health is our great equalizer. That stubborn reminder that even the mighty need mercy, that any one of us can fall, and every one of us will. And in those moments, it’s not your bank account or your job or your title, your skin color, your zip code, your religion, your sexuality, or your gender that matters. It’s your humanity. It is your hurt and your fear. It is the fact that you are on the ground, and you deserve a country that will pick you up, not leave you to fight alone.

That belief underscores the Democratic vision of American health care: A shared promise, a common bond, that we fortify not just out of sympathy for the suffering, but so that it’s there for us, too, when we need its sturdy brace. Because if it was our son or daughter, our mother or father, in that hospital, we would beg for the strength and the shoulders of our neighbors. We would pray for a system that refused to let us fall.

In the weeks ahead, keep your heads raised, keep your voices loud, help us tell the story of a better, fairer, stronger country. And if you do, we will make it so. Thank you, and God bless America.

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