Putting it on the line
by Jerome Armstrong, Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 02:22:52 AM EST
Some things I thought good enough to pass on before I get back to the massive 'site map of the new organizing platform' spec-work for our WSG developers.
Is it a good bill for either progressives or our electoral chances? In RCP's opinion, The Health Care Bill Is Political Suicide;
This bill may encourage a few Democratic policy wonks to run to the polls, but this trickle will be nothing compared to the flood of angry Republicans and Independents. And this is all analysis conducted before election ads begin to run telling voters about how the Democrats will jail them if they don't buy health insurance. To which the Democrats will respond "no, you see, it's only a big fine."The thought of supportive wonks charging to the polls and meeting the angry conservative mob with 10x their numbers is apt.
The "Do Something Big" and "Do Something Now" blast is becoming the heat of the steamroller express in passage of HCR. The reality is that its the same bailout/giveaway (called "subsidies" this time) structure to big corporate structures as all the other big initiatives of both Bush and Obama in recent years. The Senate Health Care Bill-- Leave No Special Interest Behind:
As we approach the end of Obama's first year in office, this public subsidizing of private profit is becoming something of a habit. It is, after all, exactly what the White House did with the banks. Just as he did with insurance companies, Obama talked tough to the bankers in public but, when push came to shove, he ended up shoving public money onto their privately-held balance sheets.
This is not just bad policy, it's bad politics. ...There are many reasons for hoping the current Senate bill doesn't become law. But the biggest reason of all is the desperate need for a DC pattern interrupt. The desperate need to draw a line in the sand against the continued domination of our democracy -- and the continued undermining of the public interest -- by special interests.
The pattern that Arianna Huffington points out, with its anti-populist basis, really is the root of our affliction.
Kevin Drum sets up the blame of expected losses in '10 as being due to the progressive fighters like Jane Hamsher, if ("...they decide to keep campaigning against it, that could do some real damage..."). It's actually just the opposite. Has the reportage approach of quasi-partisan bloggers like Drum, Nate Silver, Ezra Klein and others, of sitting back and offering a detached perspective on the HCR proceedings, over the past 8 months, helped the progressive cause at all? No, if anything, this type of passive reportage has represented the lulled progressive assumption that all that's necessary is to "believe" the right thing will happen. Complete with Valarie Jarrett prompting to the base to just nod in agreement: have faith in Obama.
In my view, the last two weeks, the swing of Markos/DKos, Howard Dean, MoveOn.org, DFA/PCCC into a more antagonistic activist-based approach has been long overdue. FDL, Glenn Greenwald, David Sirota and others, have been there waiting too; understanding that the politics of the Lieberman/Nelson/Lincoln approach demand that progressives be willing to lose a battle in order to win concessions. RJ Eskew is right: "In a very practical sense the Deans, Hamshers, and Taibbis are accomplishing more than any other progressives to get a better bill."
Steve Benen also lays success as contingent upon the progressive activists:The [CNN] poll... shows support for reform jumping from 36% to 42% over the last two weeks... I think it's at least possible that the reform bill will give Dems a bit of a bump in January. If there's a big White House ceremony to celebrate the accomplishment, an appreciation for the historic nature of the development, followed by an effective sales job built around the State of the Union, support for reform may very well go up. The wild card, I suspect, will be the progressive activists. Gathering around and cheerleading for hoopla, selling the name of reform, rather than reform, will not work-- especially among the reality-based.
The big takeaway from the HCR battle for Democrats involved in this process is that Obama will not be forced into being a partisan President. Drew Weston (Leadership, Obama Style, and the Looming Losses in 2010: Pretty Speeches, Compromised Values, and the Quest for the Lowest Common Denominator) makes a persuasive argument. Put in a ultra-partisan battle, Drew points out exactly the type of President that Obama becomes. That's largely why, throughout the Democratic nomination battle, I argued that Obama was the wrong person for the partisan times we are in today. But here we are, accepting that Obama will not be forced into being partisan over policy, and if the debate is forced there, he becomes an absent political force.
Absent bipartisanship, Did Republicans Blunder on HCR? Heck no, they played it to a tee:... if Republicans had played ball, they would have been in a position to eliminate the public option, demand deficit neutrality, and so forth ... but they had Democratic centrists to do that work for them, and they won all those battles, to some extent at least, without having to vote for the final bill. Whereas winning the larger war, over the design of the legislation, was probably beyond their capabilities whatever negotiating strategy they took.
...judged purely as a short-term political strategy designed to derail the legislation, it's hard to argue with the results. Public opinion has turned dramatically against the bill, and every swing-state Democrat who votes for it is courting political suicide. If you're an opposition party trying stop a legislative juggernaut, that's exactly the kind of landscape you want to create: One where your opponents know, as they ponder how to vote, that they might well be choosing between the bill they want to pass and the majority they want to keep.
I really enjoyed Paul Krugman's 'told you so' post from Sunday. It's worth pointing back to 2007, when Krugman was getting savaged (over mandates) by the Obama campaign team and his supporters. So, some some way-back links that will give some irony to the moment are in order, here, here, and here. Krugman was absolutely right that Obama would change his position in office to support mandates. And, if you are able to accept that Obama's campaign message was entirely driven by well-funded polling research, that ought to tell everyone something about why the '07 Obama took the anti-mandate position too.
Obama, in 2010, is going to make a lurch toward bipartisanship and the middle. It will piss off a lot of partisan progressives even more than the past year has done. I hardly agree with it, but I believe that William Galston describes what will be on the agenda. And given that reality, the last two weeks of progressive activists willing to fight on the line for something, willing to lose on something big over principle, is what the netroots should be a part of making happen more in 2010. Its either that or cheer and observe from the sidelines; you decide.Update [2009-12-22 7:59:22 by Jerome Armstrong]:
Markos captures this same sentiment: ...improve the bill. Were not done fighting.
I have to say there is a fairly big split in the progressive, online community, between those who just want to take a deal, anything, and move on to the next big issue, and those of us who havent quit fighting. I have to say, the reason Obama that is now talking about drug re- importation, cheaper drugs from overseas, is because we are continuing to fight.
If you laid down arms, you know what? The Ben Nelsons and Joe Liebermans, they keep extracting concessions. We cannot, at any point, lay down our guns and stop fighting.
Once we have a final bill, and things are set in stone, then we can re-examine that bill. But right now, things can still change. To stop fighting for that change, to me, is patently ridiculous.
Any positive change from here on out is going to be because we keep pushing from the left not because we say, "Good enough. Lets pass it."