Talking Points Memo published the following reader comment earlier today:
Just to mention something that is obvious, but hopefully not overlooked, i.e., if this country cannot pass a bill which insures that every citizen has access to medical care, which every developed country has managed to do (and got done many many years ago), there is something very fundamentally and structurally wrong with this country.
Such an event, in my mind, would confirm that we live with a completely corrupt and dysfunctional form of government. Forty nine states, each with bicameral legislative bodies, some of which have distinguished themselves recently with unabashed levels of incompetency and cluelessness. Then, graft a federal government over that, which is also bicameral, the non-representative portion of it being filled with officials who are certifiable morons and/or who are bought and sold like whores by wealthy contributors.
Talk about a Waterloo.
This is a defining moment in our history. Do we fulfill our supposed status as a "shining city on a hill" or continue our long slow decline into a second rate oligarchy?
I am not one prone to hyperbole.
I believe this to the depths of my soul.
This is pretty much how I feel about healthcare reform as I filter of my analysis of the issue through the lens of the history of progressive movements in the United States. The most compelling reason for to vote for Democrats, donate to Democrats, and work for Democrats is that the Party represented the best shot for the implementation of progressive policy, however incremental those policies have to be sometimes.
Universal healthcare has probably been the most sturdy plank in the Democratic Party's domestic agenda for the last 60 years. The creation of Medicare and Medicaid represent two of the most substantive and important achievements of the Great Society coalition.
After decades in the wilderness, a new coalition has been forged, one that voted in record numbers, not just to repudiate the neoconservative dogma of the last decade, but to affirm a domestic policy agenda that centered on a repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the rich and universal healthcare coverage for the working and middle class.
It actually happened.
Democrats control the House of Representatives by a comfortable margin.
They hold a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, the first in decades.
And there's an immensely popular and powerful leader in the executive branch that is actively working to keep the campaign promises he made and which the American people voted for.
If real healthcare reform fails - and Republicans certainly realize this - the Big Bang enthusiasm that so many people feel for this so-called new era will disappear into a black hole.
What compelling reason will I have to vote Democrat ever again if they can't deliver on the most fundamental policy promise they've made to their base constituents for the last six decades?
If Democrats can't deliver on their signature issue, what hope is there that they'll be able to do anything worthwhile on issues where there is less historical consensus?
The Blue Dog wing of the Party, in my mind, is doing everything they can to ensure they sink their own ship. If they effectively neuter or kill healthcare reform, I don't see how the Democratic Party will be very popular heading into 2010 and 2012. Given that Blue Dogs come from districts less likely to vote for Democratic candidates under favorable national conditions, how the hell do they expect to get reelected over Republicans in national conditions unfavorable to Democrats? It's not as if Blue Dogs were ascendant in the Party from 2000-2004.
Meanwhile, the Republican opposition smells blood. The 'waterloo' comment by Senator DeMint is a fairly candid way of stating the Party position.
They don't care about healthcare coverage or healthcare reform. They don't have an alternative plan because they believe that if you don't have insurance or if you have bad insurance - it's your own fault. For them, this is only about political victory.
Observe Dick Polman's discussion of GOP flack Michael Steele's latest:
Q: "Is it morally acceptable for 30 to 40 million Americans to be without health insurance?"
Steele: "I don't know if that's the consideration for politicians versus a pastor."
Q: "Do Republicans support an individual requirement to get coverage?"
Looking flummoxed, the chairman clearly had no idea what the question was about, despite the fact that this issue - whether Americans should be required to sign up for coverage as part of health care reform - was debated extensively during the 2008 campaign. Steele: "As an individual requirement? What do you mean by 'an individual requirement'? To require individuals to get health coverage? Again, that is one of those areas where there's, there's, different opinions by some in the House and the Senate on this...Look, I don't do policy."
(Translation: He does slogans, not substance.)
And then there was the piece de resistance...
Q: "Why didn't the Republicans, when they held both houses and the White House, do something substantial to address the health care issue?"
Steele: “Well, I think that, you know, there were efforts along the way."
He cited the GOP Congress' passage of the expensive Medicare prescription drug law, but then, apparently remembering that the conservatives in his party actually hate this law, he quickly added, "There's always been a debate about that particular piece of legislation." And then he took a second stab at the core question, about why the ruling Republicans did so little to address health care during the Bush years, why in essence they didn't do policy.
Steele again: "The other reality is, you know, the will to do it...There has been just a general lack of focus on this issue, by many."
This disgusting approach to civic life seems to be winning some momentum in the healthcare debate right now.
I sense that the White House understands the stakes.
I hope Senator Mary Landrieu does too.
500 Poydras St.
Karen Carter Peterson will speak.
I will be there.