Friday, December 25, 2009

The answer to post-health-care funk: Get money out of politics

It’s very concerning now. We progressive Democrats are demoralized by health-care passage in the Senate, while the Republican losers assert they’re happy campers and will go home to stir up more trouble than ever. This is exactly the reverse of the morale that ought to apply to these camps. There is, no doubt, some bravado and exaggeration on each side, but I think it’s generally a true portrait. Our side has to grow and change in a hurry, or we could slide down to a lower level for the next battle – the environment, which is even more important than health care. It’s the planet that’s at stake, not just a few million human beings and their crummy health.

For next steps I’m looking for tips from Organizing For America, from MoveOn, from Progressive Democrats of America; that is, from the Obama White House, from the grassroots liberal establishment, and from the PDA’s curious inside-outside mixture of being inside Congress (80-plus in the Progressive Caucus) and outside among people willing to demonstrate and occasionally be arrested.

As of this evening, OFA has sent out an email asking to thank the Senators who voted for the bill. still has Joe Lieberman on its front page. is boasting that it was named by The Nation magazine as the most valuable political group of 2008. Yes, not a typo, of 2008.

So, let’s agree that they haven’t issued quick advice on how to think and act in order to salvage the historic presidency of Barack Obama. We are, nonetheless, thinking about this vital mission. Even if it is Christmas.

I do not think the progressive side will have to drag Barack Obama, kicking and screaming, to do the right thing. If he can be convinced that he will be re-elected, he’s for it. But what will be the right thing? The Hawaii vacation may have come at exactly the right time to refresh the president’s thinking and morale. This should be a time for bold action, not mealy-mouthed compromise. Open thinking and debate, not disgusting deals on Nebraska Medicaid.

A forthright approach would be to start a new tack altogether – get money out of politics. This is what has left us in a post-health-care funk. Let’s start thinking about fixing the root problem of our health care, the environment, our wars, our corruption. The people will thank us.

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