BY TIM MCMULLEN - DEC 17TH, 2009 AT 6:11 AM EST (3:30 AM PST—or "how I spent my vacation...")
This post is a reaction to a very reasonable comment by Lincoln Park Dem to a blog post by Matt Blankenship on the Democratic Blog . Both are excellent and thoughtful bloggers.
The heart of the comment states what appears to be a sad political reality: We need Joe Lieberman. Mr. Blankenship's response was, "We need him, but the simple fact is, we don't have him."
I agree—We might need Lieberman, but we don't have him. We haven't had him for many years. Of all the missteps Al Gore made, Joe was the biggest. Out of the box he was unelectable to a majority of democrats, and as for the independents, why settle for a "droopy-clone" Republicrat, when you could have an actual Republicant?
The eternal compulsion to compromise with the Liebermans and the Nelsons of the party is a failed strategy. We had a better chance of wooing rational, moderate Republicans than the unDemocrats of Lieberman's ilk. An immediate no-nonsense stripping of all of his senate clout would have sent a much stronger and more rational message to both sides. Instead of Lieberman begging for political crumbs from the powerful majority, the confused, cowardly, compromising Democrats are begging for crumbs from him.
Putting together strong, righteous legislation and then fighting tooth and nail for it is a much better strategy than the constant vote counting that gives away everything to big pharma, big banks, big insurance, and corrupt political frontmen before ever beginning to put together real legislation; it was the "devil's deal" and damned from the start!
There must be others, like Spector (even if they are opportunists or sometime hypocrites), who are truly disheartened by their own party's hijacking by the rabid right. Let's face it: people like Lieberman and Nelson may very well defect to the party with whom they now vote; why not match their defections by wooing defectors from the other side.
If we put forth honest, forthright legislation that might actually help the people rather than serve corporate interests, we might achieve a bullet-proof majority almost immediately. Instead, we get a Baucus committee that is evenly divided (thus instantly subverting the principle of majority rule), a procedure which abdicated integrity and principle for "non-partisanship" and which yielded a true gutting of all of the most necessary changes while garnering no honest support from the minority. It was a purportedly "principled" strategy that was not merely flawed but flat out stupid!
Even if the hard-line, liberal, effective, health-care reform legislation lost by one or two votes due to corrupt and disingenuous politicians and corporate funding, that media-proof, demagogue-proof, legislative majority would be much more likely to emerge in the next go round.
This red vs. blue, two-party myth does a great disservice to our country by creating "winners and losers" with a “defeat the other side at all cost” philosophy rather than a system that seeks "better for all" choices. Watering down legislation and hamstringing government so that it can't succeed has been a right-wing strategy since before the Reagan regime, but the last nine years have certainly proved that we are not better off when the economy is in the hands of the unregulated private sector. Despite this fact, most people feel helpless, and rightly so.
A huge majority of the people truly do want change. They know that they have been damaged, many irreparably, by the status quo. They have seen their government and their taxes be corrupted by the cynical redistribution of wealth and power to the amoral, immoral, and often criminal wealthy, while the workers' jobs, savings, and rights are decimated. Consolidation of media has fueled this disintegration while feeding a "know-nothing" worship of demagoguery in the guise of infotainment over fact-based reporting and rational, political discourse.
It is true that Obama may very well need this win to stay afloat politically. If the Republicans beat him on healthcare, they can prove his ineffectiveness and take away seats in the next election, thus eviscerating his political agenda and perhaps even defeating him in four years. We have every right to be afraid of these possibilities. But this destruction of Obama's agenda is what Lieberman advocated before the election! Obama's defeat is what he promised to the Republican convention! We need turncoat democrats like Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson or Bart Stupak if we want a corrupt, immoral, billion dollar boondoggle for the insurance industry while putting at risk millions of working class Americans and their rights to effective, affordable healthcare and family planning. Obama needs a win, but an empty win that has no real hope of improving the lot of most Americans, and which is therefore bound to be a political liability, is no win at all! In fact, it is worse than a principled, hard fought loss!
At this late date it would not be easy, but the President and the leadership might very well do better by going after a few moderate Republicans (including giving some political plums) and put back the true regulations and public programs that might just save our health system, rather than to continue down the road of capitulation, hand-wringing, and cowardice. The pharmaceutical and insurance companies have reneged on their pledges to stay out of the fray; their front men in the Chamber of Commerce have been ruthless; the Catholic Bishops and the evangelicals have been ruthless. Joe Lieberman has been ruthless. It’s time to play hardball. I have come to the conclusion that we would be better off rewarding Joe Lieberman's petty, arrogant, unscrupulous, hypocritical blackmailing by stripping him of every vestige of power in the Democratic caucus today, right this minute, and fight for what is right. It’s time to drop the fantasy of bipartisanship within the two-party structure and put forth the will of the majority, a majority that voted explicitly for change, especially in the arena of health care costs.
And everyone of us who wants these changes needs to speak out to family and friends, to everyone we know; we need to encourage the politicians who support our interests and chastise those who don’t. We need to counteract the hysterical distortions and lies that have undermined this effort for true reform. Money still talks on both sides of the aisle and even through the corrupt and biased media corporations—so we need to contribute as much as we can to the political organizations that can get the message out through the internet, through the mail, and through the media, and not end up wishing that we had not lost this opportunity!
The Greatest Threat to Democracy is Hypocrisy!
Seek Truth! Speak Truth!