Imagine if we pooled all of our substantial resources and instead of attacking rank and file ConservaDems who oppose health care reform either with a public option or just in general and instead focused all of our attention on the one man whose job it is to keep them in line. Do you think Harry Reid knowing that if we don't get real health care reform by the end of this year that the netroots will mobilize to make sure he loses in 2010 would motivate him to start twisting some arms as he is usually loathe to do?
I do, and I think its time that we start applying pressure on the one man who might actually have the most to say not only about whether or not we get health care reform but if we do how it will look.
Crossposted at Smooth Like Remy
Yesterday Majority Leader Harry Reid muddied the waters on his support for a public option:
During a tele-townhall with constituents today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he supports a public option...but then he added an extremely important caveat. Reid said he doesn't think the public option ought to be a government run program like Medicare, but instead favors a "private entity that has direction from the federal government so people that don't fall within the parameters of being able to get insurance from their employers, they would have a place to go. "
That sounds suspiciously like Reid would prefer a so-called co-op system, which almost all reformers regard with suspicion, and many regard as a non-starter. Reid is ultimately more than just one vote, too. If the Senate passes a health care bill through the regular legislative process, he'll be the one marrying two different pieces of legislation: one which creates a public option, and one which creates co-ops.
Having read this breakdown from TPM yesterday I was upset of course but kind of shrugged it off. The reason being is that this is part for the course for Harry Reid. I can't think of anyone on the left, not one single person, who is happy with Reid's performance as Majority Leader. Time and time again he has failed to bring bills to the floor for up and down votes and its because of his lack of leadership why so many of President Obama's appointments still have yet to be confirmed by the Senate (anybody seen Dawn Johnsen lately?). But just now watching the funeral of Senator Edward M. "Teddy" Kennedy, and marvelling at his life's work, I had something of a lightbulb moment.
The grassroots left has been outstanding this year in terms of advocating for progressive legislation. There have been attack ads funded to run against both Republicans AND Democrats to try to bring pressure on them to support health care reform. Many of these projects have been very remarkable in that just a few people came together to produce and fund them and they have actually made a difference on several Democratic members of Congress.
Having said that, the one thing that has been a hinderance has been the fact that we have had to divide all our resources to attack these people individually in their home states. This is because with a so called "super majority" we needed every single Democrat to vote for cloture in order to get a health care reform bill to the floor for an up and down vote. But while I think those were worthwhile efforts, I think the time has come to pool all of our resources to bring to bear the full force or progressives against one member of Congress.
Many of the ConservaDems in the Senate feel safe because they aren't up for reelection next year anyway. And several of the ones that are come from very conservative states. Ironically enough Harry Reid himself may be the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate running for reelection next year. So it is time we gave him a choice, either we get health care reform with a public option or he doesn't get to be Senator any more.
I know some people will see this as a purity purge, I however disagree. Universal health care has been a plank of the Democratic platform for over half a century. If a person decides that they want to be elected as a Democrat then there should be at least some level of expectation that goes with that with support for universal health care being the lowest of bars. Otherwise what use is it to have a party or a platform in the first place?
To that end Harry Reid is uniquely positioned to bring as strong health care reform bill across the finish line. If he decides he wants to start twisting some arms and snatching some chairmanships the votes will inevitably come. But as long as he keeps this "just vote your conscious" attitude then we will continue to see every single progressive bill that makes it to the Senate be filibuster and therefore for them to pass just about every single one of them will have to be watered down. He has given all the power of Congress over to the rump Republican Minority without so much as a whimper let alone the roar we will now miss with Senator Kennedy. He can't even make the Senate Finance Chairman, Max Baucus, negotiate a health care bill in the full committee where the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is reflective of how the citizens of this country have voted in the last two cycles.
What we should do is simple. All of the money put together for ads should now be used to produce ads against Harry Reid. I would call them warning shots to get his attention both in Washington and in Nevada. The next step will be setting up fundraisers for which ever Republican decides to run against Reid next year. Third we should pledge to phone bank Nevada against Harry Reid next summer. We won't have to campaign for his opponent but just remind the people of Nevada how Reid has failed them over the last 3 years as Majority Leader.
Now I know that many will say that Democrats in Congress aren't afraid of the Netroots, but recent events have shown just how wrong they are. If Ben Nelson wasn't worried about the netroots he wouldn't be calling up peoplewho appeared in attack ads against him. But Nelson himself is actually the little fish in a little pond. It is now time that we go big game hunting.
If there is one thing Harry Reid wants in this world its to continue being a Senator. We need to use that against him in order to get this health care bill done. Im sick and tired of complaining about Reid. I am sick and tired of wishing we had a better Majority Leader. Its time we stand up and DEMAND that he gets his shit together or we will all make sure to send him packing after next year's midterms. What damned difference does it make anyway to have 60 Democratic members of the Senate if we still can't pass progressive legislation?
I would much rather have 55 Democrats in the Senate with Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer or Pat Leahy as Majority Leader than continue on with 60 or more and have Harry Reid continue on in that role. Sometimes you have to add by subtracting.
Now, whose coming with me?