The health care bill should be treated as a vote of conscience. Progressives in the Congress have every right to vote for the bill, or against the bill, with reservations. Moderate and conservative Democrats similarly have every right to vote for the bill, or against it, with reservations.
flickr image by JustinH88
We should leave to Karl Rove, George W. Bush, and right wing Republicans the tactics of threats, intimidation, blackmail, and retribution. We should understand that a civil war among progressives, and a civil war among Democrats, are unworthy of progressives and Democrats and only help Republicans in November.
Mark Karlin, publisher of Buzzflash, has written an important piece that is worthy of widespread attention.
Regarding the health care bill itself, I have written and advised some Members of Congress who have asked in this manner:
1. I reluctantly support the healthcare bill. Whatever its shortcomings, it does provide material benefit for the poor. I support an all-out, no holds barred battle on the Floor of the House and Senate for a public option or Medicare buy-in.
It is immaterial to me if the White House made a secret deal with health care lobbyists, and immaterial to me if every Democratic leader in Congress is willing to let this secret deal stand. This is to me is a matter of my conscience. This is to me is what progressives and real Democrats should stand for and fight for whatever the odds or political convenience.
2. I believe the bill itself is an embarrassment to Democrats and far outside the tradition of great Democratic Presidents and Congresses. The bill might make the world a little bit better but it is a close call. The bill contains none of the transforming features such as single payer, a strong public option, a Medicare buiy-in, or dramatically lower drug prices. This is a disgrace that we should fight against whatever the odds or political inconvenience to Democratic politicians.
The bill was largely written in secret meetings with health care lobbyists making backroom deals and embodies much that has gone wrong with the Obama presidency and with Democrats in Congress who have wasted two great change elections in 2006 and 2008.
My view is, given the options the President and Democrats have forced upon us, the best course is to reluctantly vote for the bill and fight for improvements by majority vote on the Floor of Congress.
But this is a vote of conscience. I could just as easily have opposed this bill with good reason. Liberals and moderates have very legitimate grounds to support the bill, or to oppose the bill, and a civil war among progressives and Democrats is wrong and destructive to everything we believe in.
Lets respect each other's points of view.
Lets leave the threats, intimidation, and blackmail to Karl Rove and what he stands for, because that is not what we stand for.
Lets understand that a civil war among progressives is exactly the wrong move morally, tactically and strategically.
Lets realize that a civil war among progressives and Democrats is nothing more than a great gift to right wing Republicans and would only lead to more Republicans being elected in November at a time when Democrats and progressives face enough threats already.
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