Yesterday a new plan was floated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) to elmininate the public option from the Senate health insurance reform bill and substitute a triggered co-op -- not even a triggered public option, as the Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe was willing to vote for.
This proposal is like serving up a hot, steaming shit sandwich to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. And if it makes it into the bill that Reid brings to the Senate floor in some weak-kneed attempt to get the magic 60 votes to defeat a filibuster that shouldn't even be allowed if Senate Democrats had the spine to use reconciliation or, heaven forbid, the "nuclear option" of changing the rules to prevent filibusters... then progressive Democrats ought to demand, with a loud and clear and united voice, that Sen. Reid be replaced as Majority Leader.
How to back up this demand? By threatening to stop donating to and volunteering for any Senate Democrat who votes for the shit-sandwich bill, and to stop supporting in any way any Democratic Party institution that provides resources or campaign assistance to those Senators.
I walked many precincts for Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) in 2006 and for Barack Obama in his presidential campaign in 2008. Before that, I had considered myself an independent for a few years, and before that (pre-Bush) I was a moderate Republican.
The reason I got actively involved in Democratic politics is because I believed that if the Democrats gained a majority in the Congress and the Presidency, they would enact important legislation for America such as serious and effective health care reform, major governmental support for clean green energy, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, restoring civil liberties, etc. I am beginning to think that the Democrats who hold leadership positions in our government are too willing to compromise rather than fight for the principles on which they were elected. (Well, more accurately, I have thought this for a long time, but now I'm beginning to know it.) If what's happening in the Senate with health care reform is any indication of what will happen with other progressive legislative priorities, then things aren't looking good for our agenda.
Eliminating the public option from the Senate health care bill in favor of "triggered co-ops" is unacceptable. I have no interest in supporting a political party that buckles to the demands of Independent (Republican in all but name) Sen. Joe Lieberman, who, as soon as he threatens to filibuster a bill with a public option, receives not a stern threat from Majority Leader Reid that he would lose his committee chairmanship, but instead -- as is now becoming apparent from the shit-sandwich proposal being floated by Reid and Carper -- manages to singlehandedly define what policies the Senate will consider or relegate to the dustbin of unfulfilled progressive dreams.
And I think I speak for millions of progressive Democrats who will become progressive independents -- only reluctantly voting Democratic to keep the teabag-waving Republicans out of power, but doing little or nothing else to help the Democratic Party and its candidates -- if the public option is not passed by reconciliation or the nuclear option and instead the Senate churns out a "triggered co-op" shit sandwich.
They can put such a foul and poisonous meal on our plate, but they can't force us to eat it. We can say, in a firm voice of millions in unison, "No thank you! If this is what your restaurant serves, we won't be patronizing this establishment anymore!"
As a former Republican, I know what it means to belong to a party that actually stands up for its beliefs and takes political risks to fight for them. Unless Democratic leaders learn to do that too, they can kiss much of their support goodbye. People are motivated to donate money and volunteer their time for politicians who are leaders -- not compromised and compromising wimps.
Senator Harry Reid: Your days in the Senate are numbered if you think you can hand the voters a shit-sandwich health care bill that forces them to purchase corporate health insurance or face fines if they can't afford it or don't want it, and provides no public option for people to choose instead and to bring costs down for all. And if you, as head chef of the legislative diner, serve up such a wretched concoction and attempt to force-feed it to us, then your title "Senate Majority Leader" is a joke worthy of a Steven Colbert commentary... and nothing more.