Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Thoughts After Last Night

So a fine friend of mine has adopted the stance that anyone to the left of Joe Lieberman needs to STFU and let the Senate force a shitty, shitty health care bill down the throat of the House and the country.

He does so under the banner of "GOVERN" which seem to be shorthand for "liberals will never get what they want because Democrats will always have to make compromises to get votes enough to pass actual legislation." Fair enough. But on this particular bill, it seems that a healthy majority of the vote-giving public really, really, really doesn't want this bill.

And make no mistake, this is a crappy piece of legislation. The basic deal seems to be that, in exchange for dropping pre-existing conditions requirements and the ability to deny care, health insurance companies get a provision that requires every citizen in the US to buy health insurance. Now, poor people won't be able to afford it, so the government will help them out. The government will get this money by taxing the health care benefits of people who have decent insurance now. So there will be a massive shift of dollars from the working middle class and the rich to insurance companies, hospitals, and doctors. Joy. Oh, and people with decent health coverage now will see it get worse. Double joy.

I'd also like to point out that we liberals are making nary a peep about our party passing really crappy legislation that will almost certainly come back to haunt us at the polls, the anti-abortion Dems will certainly be making hay and getting all kinds of goodies from the leadership. I'm sure our subservience will be rewarded in Heaven.

Now that we have 59 seats in the Senate and our year of a "filibuster-proof majority" has been revealed to be the joke that it is, can we please, please, please not keep the dream alive by shopping around for Republican votes to try to buy? It's over. How about we write bills that actually reflect Democratic values and have the Republicans (and Lieberman) vote "No" to every single bill? Let's schedule a vote-a-day and have them vote "No" on these things. Then we can go to the American people and say "This is what we stand for. This is what the Republicans stand against." Instead, we stand for compromise above else. We specialize in the art of the (unsuccessful) deal. We will sell out anything for a vote. We stand in the middle of the road and wonder why we keep getting run over.

The Democratic leadership sold out most of everything the liberal base believes in to get a deal and it didn't work. Now we have to go out and run on the "we tried to pass a muddled piece of shit that would likely have been a colossal failure, but we tried!" platform.

Lieberman needs to lose his chairmanships now. Reid is obviously incompetent as Senate President. We still have a large majority of the House and Senate and we can build on that, but we need to build from a solid base that reflects the parties values, not from a place where we will compromise on everything to win a few votes.

If it is our duty to govern, then we need to govern from our principles. We need to show the American people that we have ideas that appeal to them. We need show them that it is the Republicans that block good things from happening. We are going to lose the mid-term elections in a big way unless we give the American people something to vote for that they actually want. They do not want this health care bill. We will not lose the mid-term because we failed to pass an unpopular health care bill, we will lose the mid-terms if we make it the only thing that the Democrats stand for.


lex dexter said...

Barney Frank says the House agrees with SolidCitizen

solidcitizen said...

Okay, how about this: who votes for the Democrats, that would otherwise not, because they passed the Senate version of HRC?

dr said...

All I know for sure is that if I lived in Massachusetts I would have been tempted to stay home from the polls yesterday.

dr said...

Relatedly, it seems likely that the parties are going to take opposite lessons from this debacle, and in both cases the wrong lesson. Republicans are going to learn that there are no downsides to the Tea Party movement -- mark my words, Coakley's loss makes Palin's nomination inevitable. The Dems are going to learn that there's no such thing as too much moderation.

Nothing good can come of this. The GOP may win back Congress, but that will only highlight the fact that the no-bama agenda won't work as a governing philosophy. Dems will continue to offer non-solutions to the problems they were elected to confront. Eventually the wars (or climate change) will drag the sorry mess down and we'll reminisce about the good old days when you could get a decent cup of coffee for less than $4.

lex dexter said...

Mark Schmitt:

Obama is in a fortunate position compared to Bill Clinton right before and after the 1994 Republican takeover. He, and Democrats in Congress, still has both the formal and the moral power to set the agenda. They should think carefully about setting it in a way that not only produces good results -- because in times like these, results, not spin, are what matter -- but also forces the Republicans to do more than stand on the sidelines. He can be bipartisan, but he has to force the opposition party to offer alternatives if they have them and cooperate if they don't. If he does that, a return to productive progressive governance could be unexpectedly quick.

solidcitizen said...

Lex, but the the GOP will continue to offer non-solution solutions that sound great (TORT REFORM!!!!!) to the rubes that make the Dems look like the non-compromisers.

You've seen the Tea Party movement up close. Any reason to believe that these people are both sophisticated enough to have it explain to them that TORT REFORM!!! is not the solution and/or that they would be willing to compromise on anything else if we gave them TORT REFORM!!!!?

Here's where your GOVERN comes into play. They are not interested in such a thing, although they make it sound like they very much are.

lex dexter said...

Let's Don't Forget that the majority of Dem "thinkers" are more centrist-ish than even moderate old Lex.

If you believe some of the blogs, the Democrats lost Massachusetts, and Obama’s approval is plummeting nationwide, because he alienated his left-wing base. Perhaps that does account for an absence of turnout among young voters in the Virginia gubernatorial or Massachusetts Senate races, but the polls have not shown growing dissatisfaction among young, minority, or liberal voters--the three voting blocs that accounted for Obama’s strongest support in 2008. Where he has lost ground--and where the Democrats have lost ground--is primarily among white working and middle-class voters and senior citizens.


In the Pew polls, Obama suffered a drastic drop in support in the $30,000-$75,000 income group, from 63 percent to 17 percent approval in February 2009, to 53 percent to 35 percent disapproval in the January 14 poll. Among respondents over sixty-five years old, he went from 60 percent to 17 percent approval to 54 percent to 31 percent disapproval. In its January 2010 poll, Pew has a breakdown by race that is even more disturbing. Whites with some or no college--a rough designation for working-class whites--disapprove of Obama’s presidency by 54 percent to 36 percent.

Why do these groups matter? Since the 1960s, when the Democratic Party split over race, and later over cultural issues as well, the white working class has been a key vote in elections. Their departure from the Democrats in the South helped account for the transformation of the Deep South from solidly Democratic to solidly Republican. And in the Northern states, and particularly in Midwestern states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, they have been the swing vote in state and presidential elections. It’s a fair measure to say that if a Democrat can get about 45 percent of the white working-class vote, he or she can carry Ohio--Obama got about 44 percent in 2008. But if he gets only 40 percent or less in these states, he will lose those states and lose national elections. The white working-class vote may not be as important in five or ten years, as the demography of America shifts, but it remains so now—an enduring legacy of the politics of the late '60s.

Anonymous said...

'm provoked by the mention of Michigan in that last item (and The President's plummeting approval ratings in the midwest outpost of the Girlie/Lex household) to question why the blogger cited envisions "liberals" and "whites with some or no college" to be groups whose Venn diagrams manifest practically no overlap when it comes to health care.

Every "white with some or no college" to whom I speak in a day favors health care reform--and most of 'em something far to the left of the Senate bill.

Perhaps they don't count because they are "labor." But--however poor a job we at "labor" are doing mobilizing these folks around, say, a liveable state budget (still less making them see that such budgets are paid for with taxes)--they do account for an awful lot of Michigan's contribution to the electoral-college tally.

It's going to be a long time before the useless motherfuckers currently besmirching the party of Roosevelt get another hour of enthusiastic phone-banking those "some/no-college whites" out of me.


solidcitizen said...

I'll assert that "whites with some or no college" need the Democrats to be able to articulate our message as succinctly and as clearly as possible. Including our message about health care. Both the Senate and House plans are messes that no Democrat on God's green Earth can explain in 30 seconds or less. This is why "Medicare for all!" works as a selling point. Fuck, we should have called whatever mess came out of the Senate "Medicare for all!" even if it wasn't.

Obama is losing ground with these groups because Republicans are scaring the bejeesers out of old people (I imagine Beck has helped out here with the "Commie" talk that probably doesn't resonate with the young people as much) and because he shifted away from "Hope" and "Change" to "If you look at all the factors that I really can't explain to you, it really does make sense to give these guys who destroyed our economy more money so they can fix it. And I'd like to increase our troop levels in Afghanistan, but only for a short time until that talking point turns around to bite me, then maybe forever." Meanwhile, Republicans can run around shouting about the deficit, driving every thinking person crazy, but then look at what group of people we are talking about here.

Now, it may be true that Obama needs to govern now and not run for office, but then the trick is how to make governing look like running for office. You might be comforted to know that we now have a President who is doing a lot of thinking and weighing and compromising and listening - which is fine - but the "whites with little/no education" don't care about that shit and just want someone to tell them that he is on the fucking job fixing shit every motherfucking day.

Which gets to the point where we have to acknowledge that Obama is not on the job fixingfucking shit every motherfucking day, but is, instead, giving out large chunks of cash so other people can fix shit (maybe). He's letting the Legislature fix shit (not happening). What Barack Hussien Obama has done in the last year, other than largely continue the programs started by his predecessor, is beyond me.

We worked for this man (not as hard as others, but let's face it, Obama rode a tidal wave that had nothing to do with his positions or experience and we were part of that tidal wave) expecting only that he would be better than McCain or Hillary. Maybe the argument could be made that that is exactly what we got, but fuck all if he can expect to ride that wave twice.

Dennis said...

All this talk about how the Dems can swing to the left and succeed is great and all - really, it is, I think it's tactically and strategically and (mostly) politically and policy sound - but it misses one key point: Either (a) they don't fuckin' want to, i.e. they are really not terribly to the left of St. John McCain, or (b) they are so incredibly inept that their LAs are changing their Depends.

I'll grant (b) in a few cases, but I think (a) is far more likely. They're not even trying.

Case in point? The Supreme Court decision today on campaign finance reform. The Dems get too much in donations to cross the donors, and that includes pushing CFR.