Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dear Mr. President

I mailed off my message to President Obama, via, a few minutes ago. It's a slight variation on what I posted earlier today. Just for the record, I'm pasting it in below. But I'm not feeling all that hopeful, having just read Glenn Greenwald's blog for today.
The Obama White House isn't sitting impotently by while Democratic Senators shove a bad bill down its throat. This is the bill because this is the bill which Democratic leaders are happy to have. It's the bill they believe in. As important, by giving the insurance and pharmaceutical industries most everything they want, it ensures that the GOP doesn't become the repository for the largesse of those industries (and, converesly, that the Democratic Party retains that status).

This is how things always work. The industry interests which own and control our government always get their way. When is the last time they didn't? The "public option" was something that was designed to excite and placate progressives (who gave up from the start on a single-payer approach) -- and the vast, vast majority of progressives (all but the most loyal Obama supporters) who are invested in this issue have been emphatic about how central a public option is to their support for health care reform. But it seems clear that the White House and key Democrats were always planning on negotiating it away in exchange for industry support. Isn't that how it always works in Washington? No matter how many Democrats are elected, no matter which party controls the levers of government, the same set of narrow monied interests and right-wing values dictate outcomes, even if it means running roughshod over the interests of ordinary citizens (securing lower costs and expanding coverage) and/or what large majorities want.
Makes me sick to my stomach. Tom and I voted for Hillary in the Democratic primary precisely because we liked her take on health care reform much better than Obama's.

But wait. Glenn says there's still a ray of hope!
That's why this debate has now taken on such importance -- regardless of whether you think a public option is important or even if you think it's a good idea. Thanks in large part to the months-long efforts of Jane Hamsher and her FDL team -- who spent enormous amounts of time and resources getting large numbers of progressive House members to emphatically commit on video to opposing any health care bill that lacks a robust public option -- there's actually a chance this time that the outcome could be different. If those progressive House members actually adhere to their pledge, they can and will block any health care bill that lacks a public option. They can actually thwart industry demands and the dictate of Beltway leaders; can empower a new faction in Washington (themselves) beholden to different interests (ordinary citizens); and can vest some actual significance in the outcome of the 2006 and 2008 election.

Along with several other blogs, Jane and FDL are sponsoring a fundraiser to reward, and embolden, those progressive members who have made that pledge, and it raised an extraordinary sum of close to $150,000 in just a couple of days. Those interested can donate here. Rachel Maddow's lead segment last night was a discussion with Jane regarding the political significance of the health care debate and the possibility that progressives could actually prevail on something of significance for once.

The Washington Post today quotes an "anonymous White House official" excoriating what he condescendingly calls "the left of the left" for petulantly demanding a "public option." That article notes that the Obama White House is surprised by the intensity of progressives' insistence that the bill include a "public option," and who can blame them for being surprised? Ordinarily, progressives are told that they cannot have what they want because Blue Dogs and Republicans (on behalf of the industries that own them) must get what they want, and progressives meekly accept that because it's "better than nothing" (don't let the Perfect be the Enemy of the Good, they are lectured). More than anything else, it's vital that this dynamic change. Such a change -- a shift in Beltway power dynamics -- would be far more consequential even than the specific health care policy issues at stake in this debate.

OK, so it's not time to throw in the towel yet. But I'm feeling a bit discouraged, truth be told. I'm tired, and I have loads of work to do, but I'm too distracted by all this to do it. And I sure wish I had some money to send here. If you have some to spare, please do so.
Dear Mr. President,

I read earlier today that the White House is still insisting on a bipartisan health care reform bill.

But the Republicans in Congress have made it very clear that they will not back down on health care reform. These people don't want any reform at all. They are invested in maintaining the status quo. They are committed to the welfare of corporations. And they have had their chance to do things their way, and we are much the worse for it.

Much of the outcome of the health care debate depends on what you do and say in the next few weeks, Mr. President. We're looking for your impassioned leadership, for your clarity, for your steely determination, for your inspiring and illuminating rhetoric. We're looking for your commitment, not to bipartisanship, but to us.

The scoundrels you're making nice with, Mr. President, have drawn a line in the sand. It's time for you to do the same. Don't give them so much power. Don't choose a higher ground that's just going to throw us all off a cliff. And please, do all that you can to get those Blue Dogs in the Senate in line.

I'm begging you. We did not elect you to make nice with the party we voted against. Did you campaign on promises of bipartisanship? Or change we could believe in? We need to go where those people will not follow.

Draw your line in the sand, Mr. President. Insist on real reform with a public option. Don't back down. We're counting on you. We can do this. Yes. We. Can.

Most sincerely,

Mary Ray Worley
Oh, and one more thing: I won't back down.

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