Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bipartisanship torpedoed Coakley

Last night, our own Ken Camp wrote an insightful piece on the Coakley / Brown Senate race in Massachusetts, in which Republican Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy's old senate seat. I agree with much of what Ken says about Coakley's half-hearted electoral effort, but I don't think that's the whole story.

The New York Times chimes in with a piece saying:
"Still, Ms. Coakley’s defeat could easily be seen as evidence that the Obama White House is out of step with much of the American public — pushing through a health care plan at a time when many voters are primarily concerned about unemployment"

Which in my opinion also misses the mark. Sure people are upset about unemployment, but I don't think that's what this is about. Washington's own Darcy Burner, who now heads the Progressive Caucus Policy Foundation, comes closest with this brief quote she sent out on Twitter yesterday morning:
Perhaps if the Democratic base doesn't show up to elect Coakley, party leadership should consider *trying to appeal* to the base...

And I think that nails it. In 2008, the Democratic Party base busted its butt to elect a Democratic president and solidify Democratic control of both houses of the Congress, a trifecta of progressive government control we haven't seen in a really, really long time.

What were we promised, for doing this? A bunch of stuff, really, but most notably health care reform. That's what has topped the legislative news for almost all of the past year. Health care reform.

Americans are sick and tireddying of paying through the nose to insurance companies that take their money and then stab them in the back when they're most needed. We were promised, in very clear terms, that this would end. That we'd get better oversight, regulation, lower premiums, and what was that other thing? Oh yeah, a public health plan that anybody could join.

So we gave the Democrats as many seats as we could give them. We gave them the bully pulpit of the presidency, and we put a man behind that pulpit who is as smart and eloquent as anybody since MLK. We put the Republican Party on the ropes.

And what did the Democrats do with these advantages? They pissed it all away in pointless pursuit of bipartisan solutions with an opposition minority who isn't sincere in its negotiations and never has been.

Once Al Franken took his seat, there was literally nothing stopping Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi from ramming the most stridently progressive Health Care bill the world has ever seen through the Congress. Nothing at all. And don't say "Joe Lieberman." He cares about only one thing: his own position. Had Obama and Reid held his feet to the fire, he'd have voted with the majority. You know he would.

But by trying to reach out for a compromise solution that would be acceptable to both sides but still do right by the American people--a solution that exists only in the minds of leprechauns, unicorns, and Democratic Party leaders--they enabled an extraordinarily small minority of obstructionist senators to turn populist reform into an insurance industry wet dream: they get a government backed mandate for everyone to buy insurance from the same rapaciously greedy, immoral, death merchants who created this mess, no competition from a public option that would force them to make meaningful changes to their own practices, and no mandate for lower premiums.

What do we get? We get this steaming pile of offal shrouded in a fig leaf of token concessions around pre-existing conditions. Whoop-dee-%!*#-ing doo. It's not nothing, but it sure isn't what we were promised.

So I can understand Massachusetts voters being just a wee bit pissed off at the Democratic Party generally. I know I am. I expected more. We all did. And I won't blame Massachusetts voters for expressing some of that ire at the ballot box.

If nothing else, Coakley's loss sends a pretty strong message. I can only pray the Democrats who are left in Congress will have the brains to hear it. Appeal to your base, you jackasses. Your base is strongly behind an agenda which contains much that is genuinely good for themselves, for the nation, and for the world.

Back the base's agenda, and the base will back you. You've got the majority. It ain't 60 seats, but that doesn't matter. Go ahead and put up the most hard-core, pure populist health care package you can dream up. Watch public opinion numbers for it shoot through the roof. Watch the Republicans threaten to filibuster.

Then let them. Call their bluff. Let's see if they have the stones to filibuster a health care package with a true public option, coverage for all, affordable premiums, no co-pays, no denials, specialists whenever you need them, and everything else a truly world-class health care system offers. Let's see them filibuster that. We can even start a pool on how long they can keep it up before their own numbers drop lower than George W. Bush's.

Get with it, Dems, while you still have the majority. Tell the minority to stuff it, and do the work of the people. That's why we sent you there in the first place.

Don't tell me the best you can do is to let corporate-owned politicians like Lieberman, Snowe, and Collins run the whole show. That's a load of B.S., and you know it.


Blogger Kewalo said...

I just got off the phone with Rep. Adam Smith's office, urging him to vote to pass the Senate bill. It's not a good bill, but obviously the best they could do right now.

If we allow this bill to die, things will stay just the same and it'll be years before another HC bill will be introduced. This bill is better then nothing.

I am urging you to please call your critter to help pass this bill.

January 20, 2010 4:38 PM  
Blogger Martha Koester said...

I'm hearing that Brown got roughly as many votes as McCain did in 2008, but that Coakley got half as many as as Obama did. That jibes pretty well from polling estimates that in 2010 there would be a 45% drop in Dem turnout.

January 20, 2010 6:17 PM  
Blogger Martha Koester said...

If the Senate bill passes without any modification by the House, it will destroy us in November. 80% of the population wanted a public option, and we can't have it. 61% of the population prefers a tax on high earners rather tnan an excise tax on so-called "Cadillac" plans. And mandates are universally despised, as Obama bloody well knew when he ran as anti-mandate against Clinton.

There is no conceivable way that the Senate bill could be improved with Republicans in charge of Congress, which is virtually guaranteed if they run against mandates.

January 21, 2010 12:21 AM  

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