In my diary yesterday, I advocated passing the Senate bill and moving forward. I tend to agree with Ron Wyden, Jay Rockefeller, Chuck Schumer, Chris Dodd, and President Obama that even passing incremental reform will be a great improvement.
I support single payer. I think that putting profits before patients is morally wrong and an unacceptable business practice. I think that government of, by, and for the people should regulate our healthcare system to a much greater extent, in order to rein in costs and provide better value to the American taxpayer.
I also agree with Markos and others that the mandates should be removed. President Obama campaigned on this in 2008, saying that, "The problem isn't that people don't want insurance. It's that they can't afford it." Subsidies and mandates, without a public option are simply a giveaway to the for-profit insurance companies.
But I am not giving up on the Democratic Party. I am still here to elect more and better Democrats. And I find it deeply cynical and even morally reprehensible for us to turn our backs on the Democratic Party when it is the Republicans who are fundamentally responsible for blocking reform.
So what does this mean for 2010? What now?
I'm not giving up.
First, we need to focus on the US Senate. It's clear that the GOP strategy, for a couple decades, has been to buy Senate seats in small (mostly square-shaped) states, and to run the country through tyranny of the minority.
We need to continue a 50-state strategy, and focus not only on the House, but more importantly, on getting 60+ votes in the Senate.
Second, we need to continue bringing more of the excluded voices back into the Democratic Party. We have to stop kicking sand in the faces of the LGBT community, civil libertarians, civil rights advocates, educators, and others.
Third, we need to keep our attention focused like a laser beam on the do-nothing, know-nothing obstructionism of the Republican Party. We cannot allow internecine struggles with Ben Nelson or Blanche Lincoln to distract us from the fact that Bob Corker, John Thune, and John Cornyn are just outright lying for the purpose of scaring people.
I'm astonished that an online community, claiming to be dedicated to electing more and better Democrats, spends so much time engaged in political cannibalism.
Don't like Evan Bayh? Fine! But let's organize to find another Sherrod Brown or Al Franken. Continue working from the left, and don't attack the middle. Attack the right.
A few examples of how this might play out in 2010...
- Roxanne Conlin v. Chuck Grassley in the Iowa US Senate race. Conlin is an attorney who has built her reputation by fighting special interests. Her calling card is as an advocate for women and workers. Chuck Grassley used to be seen as a moderate, but he's been spending most of 2009 attacking "death panels" that don't really exist. His Tea Party base has scared him far to the right. Grassley is an easy target, and is also ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.
- John McCain (R-AZ). A credible challenger is still waiting to be identified, but there are several possibilities. Markos has suggested that the best way to win in Arizona is to look at McCain v. McCain - the maverick versus the teabagger. For all the talk of McCain's bipartisan centrism, the fact is that John McCain is a man who has never worked in the private sector and has spent his whole life suckling on the government teat. McCain claims to be pro-family but abandoned his former beauty queen wife for another beauty queen when his first wife was injured in a car accident. After returning from a POW camp in Vietnam, McCain callously left his wife behind. McCain claims to oppose pork barrel spending but has been a total failure during his time in the Senate when it comes to enacting any real reforms. He's a whiner, a complainer, and a ne'er do well. What significant legislation can John McCain point to that has served this country or the people of Arizona?
- Richard Burr (R-NC). Burr's favorability ratings are extremely low. Organizing for America drove a tremendous amount of new energy into the North Carolina Democratic Party, and this energy is just waiting to be tapped by the right candidate. Attorney Ken Lewis, Sec. of State Elaine Marshall, and former state senator Cal Cunningham have all announced their candidacy for the Democratic nomination.
Why aren't we spending our energy addressing the real problem of Republican obstructionism?