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Single payer advocates are unpersons to "progressives" at "Open" "Left"

Neo-Broder-ite Mr. Chris Bowers burbles:

Its About Who Runs The Country
In one camp, there are conservatives and private health insurance companies who oppose the public option in all forms.

In the other camp are House and grassroots progressives. Their basic argument is exactly the same as the first camp: a public option, even in its current form, would offer lower-priced health insurance than private companies.

Single payer advocates -- the only legislation on offer that can actually be shown, by evidence, to actually save lives and money -- are unpersons to Mr. Bowers, as he attempts to create his own reality.

Again, I'm with Chris Floyd, who writes:

One side is lying; the other side is not telling the truth.


Or to put it another way: One side is pretending that a wildly reactionary plan to further enrich rapacious corporations is really hardcore, gutbucket socialism from the Bolshevik trenches, while the other side is pretending that its "reform" is not really a wildly reactionary plan to further enrich rapacious corporations but something that will somehow, in some way, be good for some people at some point way down the line.

It is indeed a question of who runs the country.

The only unfortunate thing is the side Mr. Bowers appears to have chosen.

No votes yet


jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

their humanity. It clears away the restraints of conscience and allows one to consider more options for achieving a goal.

I find it useful, for example, to deny the basic humanity of health insurance company executives, as well as Wall Street bankers.

So I can understand Bowers' tactic here. He's clearing his head of any mental obstacles.

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

Like everything can be reduced to his elemental version of life- two options (check the box- yes or no, on the issue). This either/or choice is a symptom of limited thought as to possibilities. It's an easy fall-back position for those who don't care to worry their minds with delving deeper into anything, beyond yes or no.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Seriously, after his PBR post, how can a liberal (not "progressive") take him seriously. Even if they all were racist fundies--they are not--the struggles facing "Bubbas" are integral to liberalism. Wanting them out of the party for trendy hipsters was not a good sign that Bowers was planning to fight for liberalism.

Michael Wilk's picture
Submitted by Michael Wilk on

Dare suggest that he push for single-payer, and Mr. Bowers will gladly lie to you by saying it's pointless to even try and so we have to push for what we can gets. That, according to him, is the "realistic," "pragmatic" thing to do. Never mind that history was made by those who refused to accept the status quo and who opted for the "less pragmatic" methods to do it.

Submitted by lambert on

The future is not knowable, so Mr. Bowers can't really be said to be lying when he says "it's pointless to try."

Now, I would argue that abolition and women's suffrage would not have been achieved were Mr. Bowers at the helm of those movements. But that's not to say that Mr. Bowers is lying to me when he disagrees with that assessment.

Double-think? Entirely possible. Group-think? More than likely. But the lie direct? Not really.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

because in progressive circles, trying to achieve that which is currently "politically impossible" is not "pointless" -- and Bowers and the entire blogosphere is well aware of that.
Indeed, the PB 1.0 was created in an effort to achieve the "politically impossible" --- opposition to the war in Iraq from 2002-2004.
The frame of "politically impossible" is where the lie is -- its never mattered to progressives before when it came to advocating for the correct policy.

Michael Wilk's picture
Submitted by Michael Wilk on

The lie being told is that single-payer is an unrealistic goal to try to achieve and that those who try to push for it anyway are fooling themselves, but it's based on a false assumption: pushing the politicians to pass it is useless because too many of them are in the pockets of big business interests. The lie here is that no one in a position to promote or pass bills such as HR 676 has made any serious effort to do so; that being the case, there's no way of really knowing whether HR 676 or something like it would be able to pass or not until or unless such efforts are made.

Of course, that the so-called public option remains alive as an issue is testament to the power of the left and of average citizens to use their voices to shape policy in D.C. Bowers knows this, because he has been a major proponent of the so-called public option and, having used his voice in the media to promote it, has helped drive the politicians to keep coming back to it. So he knows it's not only possible but likely that by pushing for single-payer, we on the left can if — nothing else — get something far stronger than the weak piece of legislative filth we're being saddled with now.

dblhelix's picture
Submitted by dblhelix on

why does it matter?

Even dkos, with its much larger audience, doesn't have much reach. Let's say that OL has 50 regular commenters, 5000 regular readers and 50,000 lurkers. That's probably on the generous side ... how does one make the case that "Mr. Bowers" is responsible for the unfolding legislative disaster? Heck, ppl from this site probably account for a good chunk of his traffic.

Submitted by lambert on

... I believe that the blogosphere 2003-2006 played a significant role in getting the Democrats control of Congress (which we thought would be a lot more meaningful then, than it is now). I believe that because I'm ultrasensitive to changes in the discourse [lambert blushes modestly] and changes seemed to start in the blogosphere and spread. They spread upwards, to Versailles (at least possibly) but also outwards, to friends and neighbors. It's the same "transmission belt" function that the VRWC performs.

So, it's not a question of numbers, it's a question of where Bowers is positioned in the discourse. If (say) OL is the TNR of the blogosphere (ouch!) then that's a very significant position, and we should both leverage it, and call him to account. Meanwhile, Kos is the size of a cable station. I imagine that's why the OFB took it over.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

Kos is far more a community. It's one of the things that always strikes me about the site: so much of what members discuss there is personal to them. There are diaries about the personal effects of political issues, particularly, as of late, the effect of not having health insurance; and there are deeply personal diaries about things as mundane as losing weight and quitting smoking.

It's part of what compels me to post at Kos having never even bothered to register at Open Left. On the other hand, it's also what occasionally will drive me from the site for a week or more; sometimes the drama there just gets too thick.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

cheedles off DKos from the primary madness.

No doubt there's a diversity of stuff posted there, but it was a radioactive orange alert last year of a sort I can't ever forget.

To be fair (not that that's necessary, sez Kos), maybe I've just deliberately darkened my memory of it....

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

and was hoping that was you I saw at The Great Orange Satan awhile ago.

DKos is very unlike OL, and very unlike FDL too.

Markos is running a business, and some of the front-page writers over there are actually paid. But Bill in Portland Maine still has to beg for the money to keep his gig as a resident comedian /reporter /pollster / trivia master/ historian for the site. So if you wanted to draw a parallel between this place and that place ... well, there aren't many, but there's at least one: the guys who make the posts everybody reads are broke.

I like DKos. Not so much with Open Left and I can go months without darkening FDL's portal (won't read there without compelling links, actually).

Submitted by hipparchia on

chris bowers, in his 'i single-handedly killed single payer' post:

I have spent the last few months trying to increase progressive power in Congress. This effort is centered around a new strategy I call "The Progressive Block," and yes the k is intentional. Basically, the strategy is for House Progressives--reinforced by the netroots--joining with Republicans to block must-pass Democratic legislation unless we get some real concessions in return for passage. I didn't develop this strategy--it bubbled up from discussions online about drawing a line on health care early in 2009, and from earlier online discussions about building progressive power. In March, the new House Progressive co-chair, Raul Grijalva, brought the idea to the single-payer advocates of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who then voted to draw that line on a Medicare-like public option. At around the same time, Darcy Burner was brought in to help organize the effort both short-term and long-term. A test run of sorts took place in May and June on Afghanistan war supplemental funding. At that time, House Progressives, aided by Fire Dog Lake and other bloggers, worked to remove IMF funding from the supplemental bill. It didn't quite work, but in delaying the Democratic leadership by a couple weeks it did at least show potential.

In addition to selling the strategy, my part of that effort has been working with Democracy for America, HCAN and state bloggers to try and show that 50 Senators support a public option. Combined with the Progressive Block in the House--which Blue America, MoveOn and many blogs are working to reinforce--and combined with primary challenges to key Senators like Michael Bennet and Arlen Specter, our goal is to make it easier to pass a public option into law than to not pass a public option into law. As of two weeks ago, 34,827 activists have taken action in our part of that effort.

Submitted by lambert on

I read the quote, but why are you quoting it?

Submitted by hipparchia on

i inferred, from reading that post, that chris bowers is acting as an actual party strategist in the fight over the public option, rather than as just another blogger.

Submitted by lambert on

... please, let's change the "open" "left" branding, eh?

Submitted by lambert on

... King of the Wienies?

Was that where you're going?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

I'm letting my inner 12-year-old type for me. Not a rare occurrence in my case, some would argue.

Submitted by lambert on

Eenheidsworst ...

"unity sausage"), for sure.

dblhelix's picture
Submitted by dblhelix on

that HCAN/SEIU/DFA have been a big part of the problem, but blogs, not so much.

If I were to go door-to-door in my neighborhood, I'm certain ppl would recognize at least one of the three, but political blogs, no.

And this is partially in response to lambert above -- I would agree that certain outlets (like MSNBC, for example) use blogs to peddle the "liberal position." From my POV, HuffPo/dkos are essentially Reaganesque, so actual liberal positions are shut out from the media "left". However, my approach would be more along the lines of not boosting the Potemkin "left" with hits/traffic and growing an alternative. For an alternative to grow, there would have to be more emphasis on what people are interested in and less of a tendency to jeer and sneer that "low info" types don't "understand the contours of the argument." Also, most people are not as heavily invested in D vs. R, so it's really about ideas and common bonds, not further polarization.

Submitted by lambert on

In a way, just as the opportunity costs of the primariez was single payer, so _____ will have been the opportunity cost of the health care fight.

I've tried to put the platform in place for "growing an alternative" -- that's what help is all about.

But as far as the actual growth? Not so sure. Please, not celebrities!

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

"Our Senate Whip Count Campaign with OpenLeft and Health Care for America Now has gotten 45 Senator on record in support of a public option. We still need at least 5 more Senators to win. Check out the chart here and if your Senator is roadblock to reform take action here"

OpenLeft has been a major focal-point of the A-list's activism that's centered on "public option" (whatever it is) and only "public option" (whatever it is).

The big blogs and groups like MoveOn have deprived single-payer oxygen everywhere and anywhere near the big megaphones of online activism.

Submitted by hipparchia on

translating blogging into rl action, which is just way cool.

the fact that they did so in favor of sucky policy is teh suxxor, but to be fair, hcan and the herndon alliance steamrollered a lot of good organizations, not just the blogs, into believing that this was the way things had to be done, and they started on their disinformation project at least as early as 2005.

in a gallows humor sort of way, it is funny to watch all the big lefty blogs screaming loudly for a policy that's well to the right of what 2/3 [or more] of the people want.

Submitted by lambert on

1. RL action for, well, the left and

2. Can that be done without buying into disinformation techniques, and

3. How is it all to be supported?

Back to square one, but at least with more knowledge!

Jeff W's picture
Submitted by Jeff W on

I really appreciate that comment, lambert, maintaining that bright line.

Although I understand the sentiment above, I always try to be careful when saying someone else is "lying." Not only does a statement have to be false but the person making the statement has to know it is false. ("Reckless disregard" doesn't cut it, really.) And assessments about future events are largely unknowable.

Other people might have different standards—occasionally, you can make a reasonable inference that someone, given that person's position or expertise, would have to know that the statement he or she is making is false.

[Edit: Meant as a reply to "I don't think that's a lie." I'm really bad about doing that. I'll get it right one of these days.]

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Some guy named "Chris Bowers" at Open Left, in a post titled "Conspiracy of Bogus Process Arguments" (I've edited out the specific policy he was referring to, since the general wisdom of his concept is so great):

Instead of arguing against the [policy at hand] in policy terms, the Senators instead argue that the [policy at hand] simply cannot pass. In fact, among these five Senators, only Joe Lieberman has even stated his opposition to [policy at hand]--and Lieberman cites the inability of the [policy at hand] to pass as his "most important" rationale for opposition....

This is how conservative Democrats talk to progressive Democrats. Instead of coming out against progressive policy ideas on their merits, they instead offer up process argument. Further, as is the case with the arguments above, such process arguments are typically bogus. They all claim there aren't enough votes for [policy at hand], without citing a list of Senators that makes it impossible, and without addressing either reconciliation or the nuclear option....

We have to diffuse these process arguments. We need to show that all of these Democrats talking about the need for 60 votes are simply lying.... Countless Democrats and pundits have been spreading this fundamental mistruth about the operation of the Senate, and using it as justification for why the Senate continues to either defeat or water down every aspect of the progressive agenda. They don't go on record against progressive policy, but just claim their hands are tied. That simply isn't true. We need to put an end to this conspiracy of bogus process arguments.