It's been my .sig for a long time, long before I started backing now-President Obama, that subject line. What with the civil war that's erupted among Democrats now that Killer Joe Lieberman has completed the job he started in 2006 -- paying back the party that had the temerity to vote against him in the primary -- it's been hard to find that hope I voted for. We're back the to old-school Democrats' circular firing squad. It doesn't help that I'm an old Deaniac, and, since I agreed with Dr. Dean's position on the current Senate fiasco before he openly took it, I'm firmly on one side of the divide in terms of policy.
Too many voices are raised in anger at our own. Too many more are going silent. Too many forget so quickly what ruin the Republicans can visit on us when in power. (Brief hint: look at what they're doing with a mere 40 votes in the Senate.) And I must admit, I have little to offer...but hope.
"Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Words of one of the greatest men of the 20th century, quoted by our current president during his campaign. Sometimes, things go wrong. Sometimes, that bend flexes back. That doesn't mean we stop putting pressure on it.
What we must do is stop eating our own. Why is Dr. Dean being slandered for trying to "kill reform" when what he's really doing is suggesting a change of tactics? It's one thing for political opponents -- even in the same party -- to go after the "Dean Scream" when there's a primary on. It's another thing entirely for those who've given men like Lieberman and Snowe the keys to the kingdom to smear him "irresponsibly."
At the same time, there can be little question but that some of those supporting what's left of the bill do so with an eye towards saving lives. If we can't improve HCR at this point -- a premise I disagree vehemently with, but assuming the Senate version is what we're stuck with -- this can be the only honest math: will it do more good than harm?
For myself, I can say that I believe that progressives like Ezra Klein and Kevin Drum and, yes, President Obama are arguing in good faith (for the most part; see the Dean Slander, above). And while I certainly agree with front pager Jake McIntyre about how this is going to look down the road...this isn't the Iraq War.
It's going to get ugly and it's going to hurt a lot of families, but it'll probably help some as well. Enough? We don't know, and we won't until the sausage has been finished and digested. Personally, I think that as-is, it's a disaster in the making, both in policy and politics, but the fat lady is just starting her warm-ups. Republican delay might finally work to our benefit for once.
But as ugly as forcing middle-class families to hand over $9,000 a year on average to insurance companies that can still use a f*ckload of loopholes to raise rates and leave them adrift when it gets expensive...it's not bombing people, it's not "freedom" at the end of a gun, and it's certainly not legitimized torture.
Republicans are practically dancing a jig about their electoral prospects in 2010. Last year at this time, we were counting our Congressional increases. Now we just want to hold on to what we have. Progressives should keep fighting. Certainly, we need to get to the "better Democrats" part of "more and better" at this point. And for gods' sake, put Killer Joe in the political crosshairs for 2012 -- replacing him with a real Democrat should be job two that year (job one, no matter how you slice it, is reelecting President Obama).
Keep in mind, though, what insane purity is doing to the Republicans. Sure, their base is fired up -- but the Teabaggers are so crazy that they're a) driving out candidates who can get elected and b) scaring the holy crap out of the rest of the country. The best thing our party has going for us right now is the Tea Party. Is that sad? Hell yes. But it's better proof than anything about why we can't give up.
There are a lot of good, strong liberals and progressives in both houses of Congress. We've won some major victories in the last year -- not as many as we'd like, but think about who'd be sitting in Sonia Sotomayor's seat on the Supreme Court if McCain had won. Or who'd be a heartbeat away from The Button. Or where those unemployment benefits would be. Or where we'd be -- or rather, wouldn't -- in Copenhagen.
I'm not arguing that we should all hold hands and sing "kumbaya." We need to fight, even amongst ourselves. What we cannot do is go the Tea Party route and purge the heretics, especially in the activist community. The taste of apostate, I've found, is pretty sour. (Killer Joe is a different case -- there's a difference between an apostate and a Benedict Arnold.) We need to finish this fight, mourn our losses, and move on. There's still so much more good we can do, and so much more harm the wingnuts can do.
Sometimes it's hard to see it when the ashes are all that's left, cold and gray in the shadow of loss. It's never been easy being the good guys, and sometimes all we can do is gnash our teeth when traitors and cowards hold rhetorical guns to the heads of the innocent. Still, I remember November 2004, when all seemed lost. Bush openly crowed about destroying (sorry, I meant "privatizing") Social Security while Cheney and Rove laughed Luthor-like at the prospect of a permanent Republican majority. How did that turn out for them? Evil will always, eventually, turn on itself. The dream, to quote the longest shadow over this debate, lives on. And the phoenix will rise again. The only way the deniers and the hateful and the greedy can win...is if we give up hope.
(/) Roland X
Hope is a phoenix