Thursday, July 30, 2009

With Democrats Like These...

This morning, I received an e-mail from FireDogLake, asking people to call progressive members of congress and ask them to support a plan with a strong single payer option. That website, with instruction on who to call, can be found here.

The e-mail from FDL reads in part as follows:

"Dear Friend,
It's working. Your phone calls are making the difference.

The progressive caucus is finally realizing it can stand up for a real public option. Yesterday progressive members actually blocked the Blue Dogs from watering down health care reform - for the time being."

Their article about the "liberal insurrection" in the House can be found here. FDL is "cautiously optimistic" about these new events, though ComedyandPolitics is not optimistic in the slightest, for several reasons. Here is one of them, from the New York Times this morning:

"Efforts to pass sweeping health care legislation took a big step forward on Wednesday as House Democratic leaders reached an agreement with fiscally conservative party members that would cut the bill’s cost and exempt many small businesses from having to provide health benefits to workers.


Representative Mike Ross of Arkansas, the chief negotiator for the fiscally conservative Democrats known as Blue Dogs, said the changes were “a huge win for us.”"[emphasis mine.]

That juxtaposition should more than speak for itself.

Here's the thing. Anybody who has any faith at all in the Democratic Party to lead the way to a more progressive and just society is delusional. I could link to hundreds of articles that make this point, but Matt Taibbi's blog post from two days ago hits all the right notes. He writes:

Make no mistake, this [watering down of the health care bill] has nothing to do with Max Baucus, Bill Nelson, or anyone else. If the Obama administration wanted to pass a real health care bill, they would do what George Bush and Tom DeLay did in the first six-odd years of this decade whenever they wanted to pass some nightmare piece of legislation (ie the Prescription Drug Bill or CAFTA): they would take the recalcitrant legislators blocking their path into a back room at the Capitol, and beat them with rubber hoses until they changed their minds.

The reason a real health-care bill is not going to get passed is simple: because nobody in Washington really wants it. There is insufficient political will to get it done. It doesn’t matter that it’s an urgent national calamity, that it is plainly obvious to anyone with an IQ over 8 that our system could not possibly be worse and needs to be fixed very soon, and that, moreover, the only people opposing a real reform bill are a pitifully small number of executives in the insurance industry who stand to lose the chance for a fifth summer house if this thing passes.

It won’t get done, because that’s not the way our government works. Our government doesn’t exist to protect voters from interests, it exists to protect interests from voters.

That last sentence describes our country and government as accurately as anything I've ever read. And if any Obama apologists are getting upset with me right now, read the following passage from The Hill:
"Within hours of the liberal complaints, Obama was on the phone with Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a fellow Illinois Democrat and Energy and Commerce member who is in charge of the healthcare issue for the Progressive Caucus.

He told her the bill should go forward, Schakowsky said."

We now have a country coming out of the most disgraceful period since the administration of Andrew Jackson, a Democratic president with overwhelming political capital, a Democratic majority in the House, a Democratic and filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and a issue (health care) that will cripple this country if it is not dealt with in a progressive way. And what is happening? The exact same thing that always happens. Democrats make noise about universal health care, and a robust public option, and then when a bill gets put on the floor the lobbyists and special interests are the only groups that really win.

If anybody, ANYBODY, thinks that supporting the Democratic party as an idea after this disgraceful episode will help the poor, the uninsured, and the most at-risk patients, then nothing at all will dissuade them from that delusional position. What possibly could?


Breukellen said...

But serious support for a third party candidate would split the vote and all but ensure the election of the greater of two evils, a Republican. What is one to do?

jessica said...

I'm not sure that everyone in Washington doesn't want health care reform... I just think the liberal softies don't realize that through their bipartisan efforts, they're actualizing everything they stand against. Or worse, they're complacent. Big money still wins. What do we do? Trying to beat the conservatives at their own game could prove truly fatal...

The Leez said...

Nice, John. Your blog has won a place in my reader.

The idea of an anti-corporate pro-people third party is to pull everyone back to the left. It would bring questions to the debates that are currently being ignored, questions that would reveal the corporate-funded Republicans AND Democrats for what they are. The Dems rhetoric resonates with the people, but their policy resonates with the special interests. A third party would shun special interests and resonate with the people on both, and I think if we had a strong third (and fourth, and fifth -- other countries do it!) party, it would be the Dems and the Republicans that would have to worry about splitting their votes, because in reality, they're the same party, funded by the same corporations.

The Leez said...

Or we could just smash the state. Takers?

Anonymous said...

I caught the last 5 minutes of your radio show tonight and just checked out your fantastic blog, which I didn't know existed. You need to promote it more, both at work and to the world at large, because it's so well written and there's a lot of people out there who would enjoy reading it and commenting. :-)

Sarah Mathews