Fair. Balanced. American.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The case against the opt-out public option... and more thoughts on secession

I still say opt-out is a gamechanger as we start moving towards an actual bill. The moment Democrats tell white Southerners, "That's OK, you don't have to join; this plan is just for us up North" they may start wondering what those damn Yankees are excluding them from.

On the other hand, these are very powerful arguments.

I also thoroughly disagree that the opt-out would "create Democrats." It will do no such thing. It will piss off voters in those states who will come to believe that they got sold out by "liberal elites" on the coasts who wouldn't fight for them.

If you want to build the Democratic base, and convert more people to the progressive cause, you have to show them that government helps them. When Republicans failed to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, it reminded many Americans of the need to vote for Democrats who would supposedly provide government services when people needed it. It worked in convincing people in previously red states like Ohio, North Carolina, and almost Missouri to vote for Obama.

If we abandon those people, we're going to create conditions where they'll be annoyed and bitter because they didn't get to participate in the health care reform others enjoyed. But, and this is key, they will take that anger out on Democrats who "abandoned" them, and not on the Republicans in their states who pushed through the opt-out. Again, if the notion that Republican willingness to abandon federal programs leads to their defeat was true, we would have seen much broader Democratic and progressive gains in red states than we have seen recently. Someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger would never have gotten away with leaving federal health care money on the table. [...]

This idea of cutting off the red states so the blue states can live also bears some resemblance to California politics. Here in CA we often hear that we should solve the budget crisis by slashing spending in Republican districts. Well, I live in a "Republican district." So does thereisnospoon. (At least in terms of who represents us in the State Senate.) I don't think I should see my community's schools shut down, our parks closed, our kids denied health care, just because a Republican won the election. I cannot imagine how that advances progressive causes, and I know that won't win any new votes for Democrats.

As far as I can tell, this opt-out is designed to wedge apart the powerful progressive coalition that has come together around the public option. And if enacted in the bill - which would be highly likely if it makes it to the Senate floor - it will wedge apart the potential progressive coalition that could come together around using government to meet the needs of the people, just as a similar coalition came into being around the New Deal.


I do part ways, as you might imagine, here:

I also have much deeper moral qualms about throwing innocent people overboard like this. Have we so quickly forgotten the message of Barack Obama's 2004 DNC speech? Where he explained that there are good and decent people in the "red states" who deserve our allegiance and our support?

Calls for unity are electorally useful when Democrats need to piece together 270 electoral votes, knowing that the GOP has 170 electoral votes locked up because Utah, Wyoming, Kansas, South Carolina and their unholy brethren hate Latinos, blacks and gays. The moderation implied in the unity message also helps Democrats carry moderate Midwestern states like Iowa, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin, as well as the three purple Southern states, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida.

The bottom line is this: we would be a wealthier, smarter, more competitive country without the South slowing down our progress. If the country were divided, we could have a debate about national health care that was run on policy merits rather than lies. The South and the GOP Mountain West's numbers in the Senate are the cause of the filibusters that have killed common sense social policy, not to mention civil rights, for decades.

The GOP electoral base is the reason for the impossibility of rational debate in Congress. No South and Mountain West means no nutbags. No one in the progressive movement thinks the public option is ideal; given their druthers they would model our healthcare system on Canada or, better, Switzerland.

The public option is the best progressives can come up with given the Obama administration and Congress' assumption that the public wouldn't stand for the elimination of foreign-owned, for-profit insurance companies and hospitals. Which public? The functionally illiterate South, Great Plains, and Mountain West. Get rid of them, and you have a shot at intelligent public debate. Let the broke, Old Confederacy create jobs by constructing debtors' prisons near Walmart. We can always import those Al Green and Willie Nelson records; their record labels will be based in Los Angeles anyway.

No comments :