The Burt Bacharach lyrics advise us to "hold him and love him." Sorry Barack, sorry House and Senate-- no holding, no loving. I did my thing in the voting booth and I've been writing and showing up, raising my voice, and you're coming up short. Lately, that word, "spineless," has been creeping back on my tongue.
Spineless BLUE Jellyfish flickr image by I Love Milwaukee
David Swanson's brilliant new book, Daybreak, must reading for any progressive patriot, has a chapter title which describes the 111th Congress Democrats-- Voluntary Impotence. Castratos-- self-induced. When power is given, there is a responsibility to use it wisely. That takes courage. It is cowardly-- spineless-- to not use it at all.
Now I wasn't the one who pulled the S word out from the past. Bill Moyers called the Dems spineless in describing how they're handling health reform. How else could they be characterized, allowing a loudmouthed minority of angry losers and a right wing echo-chamber, fueled and funded by the insurance company and for-profit health care industry EVERYONE knew would be there to foment fear and insecurity?
Over and over again we've seen clear examples of congressional Democrats using right wing talking points to criticize single payer plans. These legislators are not ignorant. They've met with many single payer advocates and they know the truth. They just choose to mouth the right wing talking points. This is not the representation they were elected to perform.
The good thing is, the Dems and Obama can regain their spines and start doing the job we elected them to do. They gave more than lip-service to the idea we now see was unrealistic-- working at achieving bi-partisan agreement on the big issues.
The truth is, the American people massively rejected the right wing vision and gave Democrats the trifecta-- the perfect horror storm for Republicans-- control of the House, Senate and White House. And the (expletive deleted) spineless Dems are throwing it away. More than anyone else, I blame Harry Reid. He has failed to keep his house, or in this case, his Senate, in order, allowing Max Baucus to produce a total clusterfuck in the Senate finance committee. It should never have been allowed to go so far. It is Reid's job to whip Baucus and the other Bluedog Dems in the Senate into acceptable compliance.
Bernie Sanders, on Rachel Maddow last night, said it right. Those Dems need to work with the Dem Party to block the Republican filibuster. That's all. They don't have to vote for the bills they don't like. They can abstain or oppose them. But they do have to help the Dems so they can hold up or down votes that allow a simple majority to pass basic legislation. This should be a given. This should be clear from the beginning. If Lieberman or Landrieu or Specter or Baucus don't like the health bill, they don't have to vote for it.
Ten Democrats can abstain or vote against it and it will still be passed by the Democratic caucus, with the Vice President breaking the tie. But those moderate Dems MUST make it clear that they have demolished, obliterated and wiped out the filibuster in the 111th Congress. Either they work with the Dems or they don't. If Baucus and his "centrist" Dem cronies won't block the filibuster, what good are they in the caucus? Tell them to guarantee a filibuster-proof Congress or go join the other side-- and lose his committee seat and whatever other penalties can be applied to Montana, including a cut in funding for Montana projects, wherever possible. Votes have consequences-- for the constituents who send a**holes to Washington and the a**holes who constipate progress.
Once we've gotten that filibuster-proof Senate resolved, and the silly notion of bi-partisan cooperation on health care out of the way, it's time to re-assess what American needs. The fact is, for-profit health care is a parasite, a cancer getting bigger and bigger, dragging down the US economy, literally laying waste to and killing US industries. Obama's band-aid approach to cobble together a public option doesn't cut it. We need the same solution that EVERY other first world civilized nation has come to. We need single payer health care. Repeated studies have shown that it will save one to four trillion dollars over ten years, rather than costing an extra trillion-- with medicare cuts.
That's right. We have to get Baucus and Landrieu and Lieberman and Specter, Bill Nelson and Claire McGaskill and others to not only block the filibuster, but allow 50 democratic senators and Joe Biden to pass the most momentuous, most courageous, most moral bill America has seen since Lyndon Johnson ended racism with his Great society and equal rights protections.
We've given the Dems and Obama incredible power. As they've spinelessly avoided using it, their numbers have descended lower and lower. Part of the problem is Obama selected a ragged collection of DLC Dems from the Clinton administration-- a failed administration that repeatedly sold out Americans, signing the US up with the American-industry-destroying WTO and NAFTA, trying to make Democrats look more and more like Republicans. Obama may have had some rationale for starting with experienced administration hands, but now, it's time to jettison them, to replace them, like Moses replaced his leaders with people who'd never lived under Egyptian slavery, with tough, strong leaders who truly want change, who are willing to represent the people who gave the Dems the Trifecta Majority.
If Obama and Harry Reid don't "spine up," they will deserve to lose their next elections.