Thursday, January 21, 2010

On Opposing the Senate Healthcare Bill... Don't Do It!

Dear Fellow Democrats,

We worked so hard to elect a Democrat majority in 2006, and Barack Obama in 2008. We accomplished this by coalescing our different internal groups: progressives, liberals, independents, and - yes - even Conservadems.

Now that we have some amount of power, I am so saddened to see our party do what it has done in the past: our diverse groups are fragmenting because we expect some "perfect" version of policies to be enacted immediately. We seem unable to act like a TEAM.

How will we ever be able to govern, if we cannot compromise with each other? It will be impossible, and we will lose the power we worked so hard to attain... before we ever have a chance to show the American People that our ideas will make this country better.

Let me give you an example: Like you, I am receiving emails from various liberal and progressive causes - causes I supported during the elections, and during the fight for a public option. These action groups are now calling on me to petition the President to fire his top adviser. They are calling on me to demand my senators and congresspersons vote against the Healthcare Reform bill because it doesn't have a public option. In essence, at the same time conservatives and independents flee our party, my liberal fellows are actively fighting AGAINST the president we worked to hard to elect!

My fellow Democrats, don't you see how wrong this is? Have you ever heard the phrase "Cutting off one's nose to spite their face?"

Please don't misunderstand me. I am as liberal as they get! But I am also a PRAGMATIST. We need to learn a bit of pragmatism in our party. We have a Healthcare Reform bill that will cover over 30 millions uninsured Americans, will end discrimination against pre-existing conditions, and that will reduce the deficit. What, pray tell is wrong with that???

In politics there is a concept called a "Strategic Initiative." It is an idea that Republicans have long used to powerful effect: When you can't get a "perfect" bill, you pass something as close as you can get. A bill that opens the door to more progressive change, and that makes it harder to turn back time. That is what the Senate Health Reform bill is. Its not perfect, and it doesn't include a public option - something I fought very hard for, and something I know in my heart is necessary for effective reform. Heck, I support a Single Payer system, but I understand its too early for us to get that right now.

The House has passed its bill. The Senate has passed theirs. The time for insisting on a Public Option in THIS bill is passed. But, ask yourselves this: Are we more likely to get a public option in the future if we let this bill die? Or, having passed this bill that gets us one step away from a Public Option, will we be in a better position to pass it in the near future?

Fellow Democrats, we MUST seize this moment and pass reform now. We have delayed long enough. Debated long enough. If we work against this bill now, we are only playing into the hands of Republicans who want to kill the bill and start over. This is wrong politically, and will be the death of progress before it even has a chance.

Look, Democracy is messy business. Its not perfect, and it will never be! We cannot afford to hold progress hostage to our own perfect versions of reality! If we do not learn how to compromise with each other to form a Governing Coalition, we shall never achieve our progressive aims and our beloved country will only suffer further under the leadership of a party that CAN work lockstep together - and you know who that is.

Thank you for your time,
D. Tree

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