11 Jun

Stop Being Distracted by Loudmouths Like Limbaugh

The Real Problem Is Lousy Democrats Like Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson

By Chris Bowers, Open Left


Here is a message that progressive organizations and media outlets need to start sending to all Democratic party committees and members of Congress:

We are done attacking Republicans until you pass a public option for health care.

Until a public option is passed, I don’t want to hear about the latest hate and idiocy spewing from Limbaugh, or Tancredo, or Palin, or Gingrich, or whoever. And to tell you the truth, I don’t want to attack them for it, either. Because, right now, Republicans are not the obstacle to progressive governance. Instead, Democrats who refuse to support a public option are the obstacle.

More in the extended entry.

As I wrote last week, passing a public option is the lowest bar for Democrats to cross in passing major progressive legislation right now:

Real health care reform–aka, a public option–is the lowest bar for progressives to clear with the current Congress. It has the most lobbying behind it, bringing in not only health care reform groups, but also unions and mutli-issue groups like MoveOn. It only requires 50 votes in the senate, whereas Republicans will force 60-votes on virtually everything else. It is a very popular, not only in absolute terms (60%+), but also relatively popular compared to other major Democratic agenda items like climate change. And President Obama won’t have a 60%+ approval rating forever, either.

The bottom line is this: if we can’t get our most popular major agenda item, during the peak in Democratic popularity, when we need only 50 Senate votes, and on the issue where we have given our strongest lobbying and activist efforts, then we aren’t going to pass meaningful progressive legislation on anything else.

Stop telling me how bad Republicans are–we don’t need a single one to pass the public option. In fact, not only do we not need any Republicans, but a public option can become a reality even if nine Senate Democrats, and 39 House Democrats, defect. This should be a slam dunk.

We should be naming names, flying to their home states to hold large rallies, and lining up primary challengers against public-option averse Democrats. Instead, our leaders are holding fundraisers for them, pressuring their primary opponents, and hosting dinners in their honor. Kind of makes you wonder how serious even those Democrats in favor of the public option are about change.

So here is the deal we should make: progressive media outlets and organizations will only start attacking Republicans again Democrats pass a public health care option that is open to all Americans who are not currently eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or S-CHIP. Until that happens, we are not allies. Instead, they are the obstacle, and we are the pressure.

But, once a public option is passed, Democrats will have rightfully earned themselves years of good will. A public option will be the first major step forward in social investment in this country in decades–possibly since the enactment of Medicare 44 years ago. I’ll gladly rip Republicans to shreds, and push for Democrats at all levels if they pass such a public option. It would be a generational achievement.

But, until then, I really have grown sick of progressives telling me about the latest stupid thing that fell out of Limbaugh’s mouth. He is not the problem right now. Democrats like Evan Bayh, Ben Nelson, and Arlen Specter are. If the Democratic leadership is either unwilling or unable to pressure enough of those types of Democrats into passing the lowest bar of progressive governance, then it is time to redirect our activism into less partisan and /or less electoral directions.

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YES! YES! YES! Olberman should read this.

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