Almost exactly three years ago, in January of 2007, I took a leap of faith. I decided to back a first term Senator from Illinois for the Democratic nomination. I didn't know if he could really win but I had to put my faith in his message -- that it was time to rebuild our trust in each other, and in government's ability to work for the people.
Almost exactly one year ago, as he began laying out his first term agenda, President Obama took a leap of faith. He decided to tackle healthcare -- the holy grail of domestic politics, a challenge that prior Presidents of both parties had tried and failed to deliver on. He had to put his faith in Congress and the voters that they would rise to the challenge of fixing a failed system.
Now it's time for we Democrats to keep the faith on reform. Pass. The. Damn. Bill. I don't care what procedure you use, who goes first, who is mad about what went down in the past, and neither do the uninsured and the barely insured who are depending on us. Prove the government can work for the people and that they should have faith in our party to do the right thing.
One of the most important reasons I supported Barack Obama back in early 2007 was because he promised to take on a thirty-year old fight. He wanted to move beyond the radical individualism that had taken hold in our political culture since the Reagan era declared government the enemy of the people. He wanted us to recognize our shared stake in each other. Our personal responsibility for making government meaningful. I lost count during the primaries of the number of speeches that focused on our becoming "our brother's/sister's keeper" again.
The fight over healthcare is the fight to redefine the role of government in American society. It's a battle to win an increased role for the government in solving problems that are too big for us to solve on our own. And that's why the tea party movement has found its voice opposing health care. That's why the GOP wants to make it "Waterloo." This is a threat to their whole (non)governing philosophy.
And that's why we, the Democrats, can't let them win. We can't let them kill healthcare reform. There's too much at stake. I am hoping that tonight the President will articulate this even better than I, and will remind us that we need to send a message to Congress loud enough to drown out the other side. I am hoping the Democrats in Congress remember that they were elected to get something done for the American people, and not to walk away this close to the finish line.
Here's the preview we have so far:
By the time I’m finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Co-pays will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. I will not walk away from these Americans. And neither should the people in this chamber.
And while the battle to make the bill as good as possible is truly important, it isn't only about negotiating on our own side. It's also about whether we will have anything that looks like comprehensive reform. It's about establishing the principle the government should guarantee access to healthcare for all Americans. To my mind, the remaining issues to be resolved about what elements are in or out pale in comparison.
Pass. The. Damn. Bill.
Dengre gets it, addressing the assault on the core framework of the President's agenda from the right
2009 was a year of political battles in America. It is a very safe bet that 2010 will be one as well. In fact, almost every year of my life was a year of political battles in America.
The funny thing is that almost all those battles—at their core—have been about the role of Government in American life. When I was a young man almost everybody agreed that Government was important and that it could and should be involved in the solution. . . Ronald Reagan created a new meme/frame to flip the debate on its head when he argues that Government was never the solution and instead that it was always the problem. That transformation took root thirty years ago and today it is taken as common wisdom in American Politics that Government is the problem.
In 2009 this battle about the value of Government went into overdrive for two reasons. One was the fact that the financial meltdown was a direct result of the Government-is-Bad-and-Markets-are-Magic school of thought. That crisis made a lot of folks suddenly turn to the Government for help and Wing-nuts were (and are) very worried about what might happen if Government proves that it can actually be part of the solution.
Wing-nut fears were compounded by the election of President Obama. He was the first Democrat elected in decades who might be able to flip conventional wisdom back to a pro-Government footing and away from Reagan’s myth.
It was war from day one. And the Republicans and the wing-nuts have been focused on this battle 100% ever since it was clear that Barack Obama would beat John McCain. They know this is the only battle that matters and so they are throwing everything they’ve got at blocking the idea that Government can be part of the solution from taking root.
As I’ve observed President Obama over the last year, it is clear that he is focused on this battle as well. I think it is the core battle of his Presidency and that he knows it. Just as he was focused in 2007 and 2008 on getting elected, he is now focused on winning this fight. He can see past the daily clutter and keeps his eyes on the actual fight at hand and the prize of victory. That is why he has my full support.
Steve Benen gets it, with his Strategy Memo to Democrats laying out all the reasons why walking away is not just wrong on policy grounds, and on moral grounds, but on political grounds. He lays out why it is so critical for the Democratic Party to stand together on this:
V. This is why Democrats exist.
In advance of the midterm elections, there's a spirited debate in Democratic circles about the direction of the party. Reasonable people with good intentions can make compelling arguments about the party's relationship to its base, reaching out to moderates and independents, and keeping the coalitions from 2008 intact going forward.
But comprehensive health care reform exists largely outside that debate, in large part because the issue is at the core of the party's platform, and has been the Democrats' raison d'etre for decades. It is, to a very real extent, precisely why the party exists.
Democrats' commitment to making comprehensive reform a reality need not be dependent on the result of one special election. Indeed, it can't be — if the party backs off its most important issue, on the eve of a transformative victory, its entire agenda is suspect.
David Plouffe gets it, writing in the Washington Post:
We still have much to do before November, and time is running short. Every race has unique characteristics, but there are a few general things that Democrats can do to strengthen our hand.
-- Pass a meaningful health insurance reform package without delay. Americans' health and our nation's long-term fiscal health depend on it. I know that the short-term politics are bad. It's a good plan that's become a demonized caricature. But politically speaking, if we do not pass it, the GOP will continue attacking the plan as if we did anyway, and voters will have no ability to measure its upside. If we do pass it, dozens of protections and benefits take effect this year.
-- No bed-wetting. This will be a tough election for our party and for many Republican incumbents as well. Instead of fearing what may happen, let's prove that we have more than just the brains to govern -- that we have the guts to govern. Let's fight like hell, not because we want to preserve our status, but because we sincerely believe too many everyday Americans will continue to lose if Republicans and special interests win.
And, as recently posted on Balloon Juice the tea party crowd gets it - while we debate our message or procedural strategy, they are calling to say "kill it now":
From an anonymous friend who works on Capitol Hill.
We—and by we I mean all Democrats in Congress—need to hear from more supporters. It is clear that the teabaggers have been far more organized than liberals and progressives, but your efforts are reminding us that the American people are on our side and giving us the morale boost we need to get this bill passed. Please keep up the good work.
You know what to do.
We know what to do. We need to call and tell Congress that they can't just walk away. However they can do it, whatever order, whatever procedural magic they need to work - I don't care. Just don't give up on the millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions, or who have junk insurance, or who can't afford to get the medical treatment they need because they are uninsured.
Pass. The. Damn. Bill. (www.passthedamnbill.com)
I am a volunteer with Organizing for America in California. When I write here I speak for mysefl and not for the organization. My diaries, and all the words in them, are my own.