Bipartisanship Is The Reformkiller
He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing.
- Paul "Muad Dib" Atriedes
Sorry for the scifi references, but it's really true, eh? It's something the GOP has learned quite well: they destroyed American freedoms and the US economy, and they still control us even in the Minority.
The difference between them and progressive Kill-the-Billers is that their end goal is just to destroy, whereas we want to wrest control from them to actually protect reform. We don't want to destroy HCR in order to save it; we want to destroy a specific thing that is to our mind anathema to reform. Yet the threat to kill this particular bill can, in the end, save it along with reform itself.
Dems are desperate to pass something so they don't look hapless and ineffective (as I've said before, I think that ship sailed long ago). They hoped gutting reform would get GOP votes, but it didn't. They lost the MA Senate race in part for not going far enough, providing the public option that most Americans want (woman under bus notwithstanding).
It's time to double down. Without meaningful reform, at the very least PO if not removing anti-abortion language and Section 1332, House progs can easily scuttle the bill. That threat might very well be enough to fix it now because leadership is scared about electoral prospects in November.
The GOP plays hardball all the time and gets what it wants. Progs can do it, too: give us back the reforms we voted for that the Senate killed, or we kill the whole thing. Instead of further capitulation, showing resolve would change the dynamic and allow us to negotiate from a position of strength.
If the bill does die, obviously the Dems need to pass something quickly. So kick HR676 out of the various committees its stuck in by virtue of raw majority power, schedule a floor vote and send it to the Senate.
In the other chamber the Majority should forego the usual 60 vote threshold established by unanimous consent agreement (Feingold, Sanders, I'm looking to you to object). Force the GOP and Lieberman either filibuster or use other parliamentary procedures to delay a vote and now it's clear they are obstructing reform.
That provides time to mobilize people outside the beltway to escalate action and lobby "moderates," etc. Even Strom Thurmond couldn't delay Civil Rights legislation forever, so filibusters and quorum calls cannot destroy the bill--only Senate Democrats giving in to the Minority can do that.
An old Cosby line comes to mind: I brought you into this world, I can take you out.
The Dems were ineffective as the Minority, but when they asked us to we gave them Congress in 2006. They were an ineffective as the Majority, but when they asked for more seats in the house and 60 votes in the Senate, we gave it to them in 2008, and the Presidency. We did this in good faith and they still haven't held up their end of the bargain.
We brought them into power, they have thus far failed to act, and we must threaten to get them out of power. There's still time for behavior correction, but we must stand firm in our discipline lest they assume once again that we have nobody else to turn to come election time.
People don't like it when I say we're partially to blame here. Surely the Dems are the primary people at fault, but to a certain degree we let them fail. They're politicians and we've been fundamentally disengaged, hoping in the wake of Bush that by default, without our pushing, they'd get their act together.
Now we must do do so.
Threaten the status quo of corporate domination--through lobbying, campaign contributions, and now free spending in elections--that has hampered reform of not just health care. The only thing pols really respond to is fear of losing in November.
Primary and General challenges are a great thing we should bring to bear, but incumbents have little fear of overthrow usually. So we need to change the equation through massive direct action before then and show them we're serious. Dems think in the end we have to vote for them, but Massachussets showed that wasn't true. That upset was a good down payment on our electoral threats, but we need followup.
[I'm just going to steal something I said in response to comments on another post the other day. Apologies for lazy, slightly-modified plagiarism.]
I've tried to rally Labor, MoveOn, DFA, NOW, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, A-list bloggers and anybody who else who has a big audience and platform to organize a variety of escalating forms of direct action since March. I would not presume to have the best plan without people engaging in constructive debate about such things, but I have frequently outlined it thus:
Start with petitions and e-mail campaigns issuing the demand for HR676 and specifying a collective response in the event of capitulation (which we've seen piecemeal with SP becoming PO, Stupak, loss of PO, Section 1332, etc), to include withdrawal of support from incumbent Democrats in primaries and general elections and the following:
o Weekly vigils in front of local Congressional and insurance offices.
o Coordinated national marches in state capitals and/or major cities.
o Weekend march in DC in conjunction with mass lobbying on the Hill.
o Boycotts (at least secondary targets like cable companies if not riskier focus on primary targets like ins cos).
o "Sick-in" strikes.
o Weekday marches in DC and around the nation, mass lobbying, and civil disobedience.
At this point, our demands have been issued but few significant threats were made. For example, Labor promised to not support Dems in 2010 until they got the Caddy tax compromise protecting their constituency. So the divide and conquer plan has worked as we've allowed an already watered down compromise get compromised further, with bribes thrown to a variety of groups to win their buy-in while others were marginalized.
So now I'm more of the mind that we have to leap right into economic intervention, maybe with mass lobbying on Congressional delegations in-district and at the Capitol, another march or set of marches, and civil disobedience thrown in to get visuals.
Yeahyeahyeah, I love my tasty Kool Aid. For once I'd really like to see people skip the "that shit'll never work" knee-jerk response and think about how we could make it work. Since the usual approaches haven't magically gotten us a PO let alone single-payer, perhaps we could try something new (to this issue) and apply tactics and strategies that have effected great social change in our recent history.
But other suggestions have left me cold: fix it later won't work as I see it post-MA and Citizens United, and the Dems are in danger of not only losing seats but perhaps even the Majority. Time is of the essence to pass HCR, and we can even save the Dems in spite of themselves by disrupting corporate influence a bit and forcing the Majority to get a meaningful bill out of the bipartisan morass that threatens to kill real reform.
PS--Speaking of in-district lobbying, Ericka, Sam and I are headed to Representative Peter Welch's office in Burlington before I have to teach today.