As a political junkie I've been following the health care reform debate (I bet you couldn't have guessed that from my other posts) pretty closely. The latest word from the GOP now is that the Democrats will need 75-80 votes to pass legislation. WTF? Where is that law written? Did someone amend the constitution when I had my back turned? As Rachel Maddow pointed out on Thursday the 20th that's moving the goal posts, raising the basket, filling in the cup, stepping on the scale. It's cheating and it's dishonest. And it simply isn't the law, even taking the filibuster into consideration. (Speaking of the filibuster I say that the Democrats should force the GOP to actually go through with a real, standing-there-all-night, no-break, no-bathroom, coffee-fueled filibuster rather than cowering from the mere threat. Hey, I have an idea for a new blog post!) It's absolute nonsense.
Unfortunately the Democrats are buying it lock, stock and barrel. (Who buys the lock and the stock but ignores the barrel?). And it's at their electoral peril. Just using myself as an example I was far more involved with the campaign of Barack Obama than any campaign in the past; I drove hundreds of miles to canvas for him. I donated as much money as I was allowed legally; I made phone calls; I handed out flyers; I posted door hangers; I left my wife and infant son at home over weekends to help this man win, so that he could change the way Washington worked. He had dreams. We had hopes.
Against what looked like overwhelming odds only six months earlier Barack Obama won and brought with him a huge majority in the House and eventually a supposedly filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes in the Senate. None of that is news.
What is news, though, is how weak those majorities are and how the brilliant campaigner is falling on his face as a leader. The Democrats are letting a few noise makers, corporate (read: profit) interests, and flagrant liars shape the debate. Take back the reins, Mr President. Take back the tone. Take back your mandate and USE IT.
When Bill Clinton's naivete cost him health care reform in 1992/1993 we liberals let it slide as a rookie mistake. Mr. Obama, we're not going to be that forgiving this time because you have that model to use as an example what not to do. If you fail to give us a solid piece of legislation with real reform (read: public option) I can say, with confidence, that those of us who fought so hard in 2008 will stay home in 2010 and 2012. Your political capital will never be stronger and there is likely not to be another cause that needs it as much as health care reform both for our physical health as well as the country's fiscal future.
Please don't let this slip through your fingers. If the GOP won't negotiate in good faith then don't invite them to the table. We don't need them. We need a real leader. We need the man we fought for and elected. We need you.
Anything else would be absurd.
(PS: Maybe I should have called this blog "Abundant parenthesis")