Tuesday, December 22, 2009

DC Pattern Interupt

Jerome Armstrong makes the case that (as I believe) there is more at stake in fighting for a better bill (whether that be through pressure to make it better through House leverage or scrapping it altogether for a better bill) than simply stronger reforms.  It's also about 2010, and breaking the pattern of corporatist "conservative" Democrats superseding populist progressives in each and every policy debate:

This is not just bad policy, it's bad politics. ...There are many reasons for hoping the current Senate bill doesn't become law. But the biggest reason of all is the desperate need for a DC pattern interrupt. The desperate need to draw a line in the sand against the continued domination of our democracy -- and the continued undermining of the public interest -- by special interests.

The pattern that Arianna Huffington points out, with its anti-populist basis, really is the root of our affliction.
Kevin Drum sets up the blame of expected losses in '10 as being due to the progressive fighters like Jane Hamsher, if ("...they decide to keep campaigning against it, that could do some real damage..."). It's actually just the opposite. Has the reportage approach of quasi-partisan bloggers like Drum, Nate Silver, Ezra Klein and others, of sitting back and offering a detached perspective on the HCR proceedings, over the past 8 months, helped the progressive cause at all? No, if anything, this type of passive reportage has represented the lulled progressive assumption that all that's necessary is to "believe" the right thing will happen. Complete with Valarie Jarrett prompting to the base to just nod in agreement: have faith in Obama.

In my view, the last two weeks, the swing of Markos/DKos, Howard Dean, MoveOn.org, DFA/PCCC into a more antagonistic activist-based approach has been long overdue. FDL, Glenn Greenwald, David Sirota and others, have been there waiting too; understanding that the politics of the Lieberman/Nelson/Lincoln approach demand that progressives be willing to lose a battle in order to win concessions. RJ Eskew is right: "In a very practical sense the Deans, Hamshers, and Taibbis are accomplishing more than any other progressives to get a better bill."
I think it's dangerous to not also admit the electoral damage possible with no bill passage, but for me this is a much stronger argument.  Increasing progressive influence, and breaking the pattern of undermining public interest (often defended by "what's possible" arguments that only ensure a continued status quo both in policy making procedures and the policy produced by that machine), when considered from the point of view of electoral boost/damage, stands to position Democrats much better in 2010 and 2012 than passage of a bad bill, and trying to convince the base to defend it.

I'm not sold on the black and white of "this bill or no bill" yet.  I think there is opportunity to pressure a better bill and even guaranteed dates and expectations for "fixing it later' (just not much later... say January/February), but I understand why activists must frame opposition as "kill the bill" now to even have that influence going forward.  I don't think it will come to that, but even if it does, that is an easier defense to mount in 2010 than massaging support for another corporate handout with no attempt at cost controls.

2010 will end up being about jobs and the economy, and the opposition will still be talking about Marxism and tea parties.  Why assume this easy target in bill form, with little defensible argument in the way of "reform"?

1 comment:

  1. I like that Jane Hamsher is not bluffing. She has the signatures of 65 House members who have pledged not to vote for a bill unless it has the public option. If they keep their promises, and the GOP remains the Party of NO, then Nancy Pelosi is not going to have 218 votes.

    If the 65 do not keep their promises, Jane Hamsher and others will see to it that they face primary challenges from single-payer candidates.