Okay, I've been on this website for a looooooong time. I'm mostly a lurker. I occasionally comment. I even more occasionally posts diaries. I'm not a relevant member here by any means, never have been, probably never will be. I don't know as much about most issues as the most knowledgeable members, I don't work as hard on campaigns as our most committed activists, don't get involved in flame wars like our most impassioned advocates, don't educate fellow members like our most scholarly experts on various subjects.
Now, however, I really feel the need to make a bit of a rant...
It's been a solid 30 years since Ronald Reagan got elected president of the United States of America, thereby inaugurating the conservative era that America had been sniffing around ever since the emergent Civil Rights movement engendered Southern backlash and the emergent welfare state engendered Barry Goldwater. A solid 30 years of lowering taxes, weakened public institutions and the slow erosion of the middle class's economic security and the gilding of the upper class to levels of wealth heretofore unseen since, who knows, the days of the Pharaohs? A solid 30 years of Democrats cowering at Republican attacks of spendthriftness, lack of patriotism, weakness on defense, weakness on family values, weakness, weakness, weakness...a solid 30 years of having it explained to us one way or another why we couldn't have major legislation, didn't have the votes, didn't have the money, didn't have the public support, had to worry about our moderates, had to worry about the next election, had to worry about the media coverage, had to wait until the next cycle, had to stand by watching idly like some pathetic vestige of our formerly dominant selves while Reagan and Gingrich and Delay and Bush and Rove and whomever else you want to throw into the hopper gleefully shoved the Overton Window one little notch further to the right every time another opportunity presented itself, which was pretty much every opportunity.
So now. Cut through all the verbiage I could spew here about Hope and Change. We have a country on the verge (no shit) of utter collapse if we don't turn the ship around and start heading in a more progressive direction. We have an electorate absolutely filled to the brim with rage that could, properly focused, be genuinely populist. We've had two straight elections in which the American voter told the standard GOP operative where he could shove it. We have a president who has weathered the most terrifying economic crisis in several generations, simultaneous wars which, astonishingly, he's managed not only to survive but kind of, you know, from what I can tell, master. We have arrived at an opportunity to take a first halting step toward one of the most major social reforms in the history of this nation, against immense opposition, against every single weapon our opponents have thought to throw at us, against the unilateral enmity of the second-largest lobby in Washington D.C., in a year of almost blind cultural panic, in a subject that the average citizen understands so dimly that they're incredibly vulnerable to the predation of cynical opposition and lobbyist media millions, at a moment in our history when, if we fail to at least begin this process of reform, health care will surely drown our nation...
And you say no.
You say we don't have a public option (you know, the butchered public option that experts say wouldn't work very effectively as currently constituted anyway), so we need to torch the bill.
You say you don't like mandates (you know, the mandates that anyone who knows half a goddam trifle about the subject thinks are absolutely essential to any halfway-decent national insurance sytem that we might someday work our way towards) without sufficient industry reforms, so we need to torch the bill.
You say the new strictures on the insurance industry, while significant (you know, completely changing the %s they must spend on patient care), are insufficient, so we have to torch the bill.
You say those 31 million people who'll get insurance won't have quite enough subsidies, so...etc.
This at a time when anyone who looks at the political terrain with even a modicum of common sense understands that this is all or nothing. That we HAVE TO WIN THIS ONE. That public opinion will turn violently against the GOP once the basic contours of the bill are known, and strongly in our favor, that all kinds of progressive things become possible once the public believes in us, once we believe in ourselves, once the GOP's horseshit PR nonsense has been discredited.
What on Earth are you thinking? That Obama and a few Senate Democrats sold out the public option in order to protect themselves from the loss of insurance industry money? I suspect you're right.
How on Earth can you possibly believe it's worth losing this victory over? When, frankly, campaign finance reform is so clearly one of the issues that's teed up like planes waiting to take off -- IF we can win this one?
What are you thinking? And why are we picking this moment to say it out loud? What do you think you can accomplish? How can you possibly be under any illusions that a loss here, on this bill, could ever lead us to a better solution?
I'm trying so hard to be polite. I'm bewildered. And I have a little kid hanging on my leg waiting for her goodnight story and a wife who needs me to stop obsessing about this stupid diary and help her move furniture like I promised, so I have no time to really write and research and link and edit this thing, no time to add in all the (theoretically) persuasive little facts and arguments for why it's so incredibly short-sighted and absurd to be Hamshering this legislation right now, no time to even work in the bitter Nader reference that's always lurking under the surface whenever a subject like this comes up...
We will have this bill. We will build on it. We will put the Reagan generation behind us and begin anew a genuine progressive era.
And sorry, but the last words have to be: Despite you.