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There was a diary on the rec list for most of the weekend about not heeding President's Obama call to organize for universal and affordable care.

The logic goes that since the party has appeared unwilling to react or care about sinking poll numbers among progressives, the best way to send a message to the President and get him to be more active/outspoken is for progressives to withdraw from organizing tools associated with him.  

Because clearly:

  1. nothing inspires action like inaction
  1. nothing provides influence in an organization like not being there
  1. nothing motivates a party to action that appears unflinching in the face of sinking progressive support more than reduced progressive activity and support

I posted this comment in that diary:

If OFA provides a route to go out and push people to support the public option, it would seem wiser to take that route and add one's voice to the discussion, as opposed to walking away.  OFA is a bottom-up grassroots organization like the Obama campaign, shaped by what its volunteers believe; the diarist knows that volunteering for OFA would allow them the opportunity to advocate for a public option strongly without any chance of someone tapping them on the shoulder and say "don't do that", but I guess since Obama is not speaking up enough, the diarist would rather not take that opportunity to advocate for the public option, network with others at OFA who feel similarly, and pass their feeling up through the organization.

The diarist's inaction here, presumably, will inspire Obama to action.  I don't think such an entirely backwards theory is grounded in reality or the least bit constructive, but the diarist's personal time is their own, not mine.

Multiple responses chided back, one of them even yelling in bold font - clearly unfamiliar with my background here pushing hard for a public option - arguing that 1) Obama is being vague, and that 2) Democrats will all be much worse of if they settle for a hollow victory.  

The problem is that I strongly agree with BOTH of those points.  

Furthermore, neither of those points contradict a word that I said.  

I think the fact that so many people missed that highlights a key disconnect here.

It's not about what Democrats are doing - we can all see that for ourselves - it's about how WE affect their behavior.  That's what we have control over.

Our community is always filled on any given day with great suggestions on how to affect politicians' behavior constructively, as well as good-intentioned but not so constructive ideas that can sometimes can even backfire and be counterproductive.

For trying to seperate the productive ideas from the counterproductive, I have often been accused of being too cautious and restrained, but I disagree vehemently; whether in military policy or in politics, strong and smart beats strong and strong everytime.

We have to be smart, focused, and always assess the full consequences of our actions, good and bad, in order to take the most effective role; in the butterfly effect world of policy and politics, this is extremely challenging and requires our most diligent efforts.  Too often, however, I see very smart people here who are passionate (and about all the right things) advocating an impulsive course of action which makes a statement that "feels good", regardless of whether the end result of the action is ultimately constructive for progressive goals; when one challenges them on that logic, they usually retort with implicit accusations of being a shill or a sell out, and the conversation degenerates.

But we need to do better.

I know, it's tough; there's so many reasons to be frustrated, so many reasons to be cynical, but this makes it MORE important for our actions to be productive, not less.

We need to do better.

I'm not some DC party consultant, I've been an independent voter for most of my life, and I am a musican with no health care at the age of 30 and no forseeable chance of ever getting it under the current system.  I am as anti-establishment as you can get when it comes to the idea of party politics; 2008 was the first year I voted for a major party candidate for President.  

I have nothing to gain for being an apologist for anyone.

On the other hand, I have everything to lose if I can't convince everyone around me to unite for affordable and universal health care.

Let me be clear in exactly what that means; I don't expect for a moment for people here to all agree on the analysis of motives or the tactics of politicians - that would never happen nor should it - but I would hope we could present a fairly united front to push as hard for a public option for every second that it remains possible, because the insurance companies will be pushing their hardest against it until the last second, thoroughly undeterred by bad news.

If we fail and are let down, AT LEAST WE TRIED.

I refuse to curtail my efforts early because others have not been strong enough; it makes absolutely no sense.  Why embrace irrationality?  For instance, as noted before, if the theory being operated on is that Obama and the party aren't changing their behavior despite waning interest from progressives, then why would waning interest from progressives withdrawing from OFA be a constructive measure to push him to action?  Logic suggests it woud not.

The reason many gave in that diary for their position on this was that IF a shitty plan were to be signed into law by Obama, the idea of having worked for OFA would make one feel like a loser or, even worse, part of a dirty victory.  If we fail, it would be a bad idea, so therefore we should not try.  In fearing the worst, we throw up our hands and walk away.

Except - we can't do that.


We have spent the last several months demanding our elected officials look beyond their own fears to do what's right in the big picture of health care and not just to cynically prepare for defeat; in the midst of such a lobbying effort, we cannot be doing the same thing.

When politicians back away from a bold course of action, fear of failure is inevitably the culprit; why not just do less and play it safe if the effort will ultimately fail anyway?  If we fail, it would be a bad idea, so therefore we should not try.  Fear breeds political complacency, and has been the blunt tool of oppression in our society for years; I refuse to give into fear and complacency, and then expect differently from my representatives.  

Perhaps Obama and the Democrats in Congress will let us down and fail in the end - but I will know either way at the end of this that I did EVERYTHING I COULD, instead of wondering if I could have done more.  I expect every Representative and Senator to apply this same exact philosophy when it comes to health care, every single one; I demand that they should do everything they can to fight for a public option, regardless of whether that day's conventional wisdom says things are going well or not, regardless of whether fear drives them to be more complacent.  It's hard to see why any of us should do any less yet expect more from them.

Disclaimer: To be absolutely clear, OFA is NOT the point here, just an example; this diary does NOT intend to suggest people should join OFA, as one can be active and constructive independently as well as through various organizations, but simply argues against the logic of those who would vocally withdraw from such organizations as a means to make a constructive statement on health care reform.

Originally posted to ShadowSD on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 08:51 AM PDT.

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