An Open Letter to KOS
by PaulSiegel, Tue Dec 29, 2009 at 01:34:30 PM EST
KOS, your progressive voice is a strong, eloquent, and persistent battle cry against the monstrously nihilistic conservative Republicans who are trying to tear our society apart. You were a prime force in getting President Obama and the Democratic Congress elected. Now you are pushing them to achieve progressive legislation, especially health care reform. However, your exertions against bipartisanship and your continued fight for the already-defeated public option only serve to pull Republicans into the next Congress.
Your efforts in the recent election campaign were exemplary. You and other progressives helped us get rid of Bush and all he stands for. You got many people to believe in the need for change, and to vote for the type of change Barack Obama stood for: real justice, true diplomacy, good jobs, transformative climate-change action, prosperity-producing energy industries - and universal health care.
President Obama has started to work and is making progress on each item he promised. Because of all the conservative forces and institutional restraints placed on him, he has a long way to go on his agenda. But he is making progress.
When it comes to his number one priority, health care, President Obama has already taken us further than any other president in American history. He has worked on it for months on end, almost from the beginning of his administration. He has talked to practically anyone who had any ideas on the subject. He negotiated with congressional members of his own party and of the opposition party. Today, both the House and the Senate have approved health care bills. We are so close to our goal we can taste victory.
Unfortunately, our possible victory is not total. In order to pass a bill in the Senate, we had to remove the public option. Without this compromise, the bill would not have passed. You and a few other progressives may not agree with this evaluation. But this evaluation was made by our duly elected president.
Of course, in his campaign Barack Obama stressed over and over again that he would seek bipartisanship. He tried valiantly to do it, but the Party of No stymied him at every turn. You, KOS, and other prominent progressives, did not help in any way. As a matter of fact, almost from the beginning you kept hammering away that bipartisanship would not work. And when it did not, you gloated that you were right all along.
Would it have helped if you had taken a different tone toward bipartisanship? Probably not. However, it would have kept the Democratic Party more unified and President Obama's favorability numbers higher. The Democratic Party would have been in a better position to withstand the coming Republican onslaught in 2010.
Even now, after the huge battle fought in the Senate, you are fighting the leader of our team, President Obama, by continuing to push for the public option. Evidently, you don't believe in teamwork. During the campaign you performed as a member of the team. But now, when it counts, you are working against the team.
During the campaign, Barack Obama proclaimed that he would not be able to do all he wanted unless we acted as a team. Here's how a team should work: Before a decision is made each person or group should push as hard as possible for their approach and everyone's ideas should be considered. After the decision is made all members of the team would be expected to work together towards what had been decided.
As a member of the team, it's time to stop the criticism of Obama, forget about the public option, and push progressive ideas in a way that is not likely to produce another ideological battle. Even Jakob Hacker, the guy who introduced the idea of the public option, thinks the Senate bill is OK:
As weak as it is in numerous areas, the Senate bill contains three vital reforms. First, it creates a new framework, the "exchange," through which people who lack secure workplace coverage can obtain the same kind of group health insurance that workers in large companies take for granted. Second, it makes available hundreds of billions in federal help to allow people to buy coverage through the exchanges and through an expanded Medicaid program. Third, it places new regulations on private insurers that, if properly enforced, will reduce insurers' ability to discriminate against the sick and to undermine the health security of Americans.
According to the latest polls, the majority of the public is now against the health care bill. Why? One big reason is the constant and violent attacks of Republicans. This alienated many to the right of center. Another big reason is the many attacks of the bill from progressives like you, Huffington and others. This alienated many to the left of center.
The net result of all your criticisms is that you have reduced the enthusiasm of the left, making liberals less likely to vote, thus making it easy for Republicans to gain strength in 2010. If this happens, you will have a Congress that is less likely to produce any progressive legislation.
We must pass a health care bill or the Democratic Party is doomed.
KOS, join the team. It is not too late. Abate your criticism. Indulge in a little praise. I personally think President Obama deserves a mountain of praise for the way he has confronted his many challenges and the great progress he has already made. Let's work for the Democratic Party in order to prevent Republicans from ruining our chances for a decent society.