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Let’s say you worked in an office, and the fellow at the desk next to you was always stepping on your toes as he passed by you. Everyone gets frustrated with him for his clumsiness, and despite every assurance that he’ll be more careful, damned if he’s not crushing your feet again as he enters and leaves.
And then it hits you: what if he’s not clumsy? What if he’s doing it on purpose?
And at a certain point, what does it matter whether it’s intentional or not? Whether he’s clumsy or villainous, your toes are getting bruised just the same, and you ought to move your damn desk away from him.
And if you saw that I was going to use this as a metaphor for the Democratic party, I’m just getting too damned predictable.
Seriously, liberal/progressive types from the highest peaks to the deepest ocean trenches all bemoan the way that their Democratic representatives in government are so cowardly, so spineless, so quick to cave and compromise. But after this happens enough times, you should seriously ask yourself if they are getting tricked into giving up on what they want time and time again, or if they are doing it because THIS IS WHAT THEY WANT.
So are the Democrats in Congress caving in to right-wing pressure for weak health reform legislation? Or do these Democrats WANT weak health reform legislation?
Frankly, I think it’s the latter. What’s in it for them, politically, to get a public option, or single-payer health care? How many votes will it get them next election, versus how many lobbying dollars will they lose from an angry health insurance industry? It’s been shown that almost all of the time in American elections, the candidate who raises the most campaign money wins the election. Sad, but true. Americans could turn this around with some education, dedication, and awareness. But right now, the reality is that politicians have a better chance of winning an election by screwing over their constituents for cash than even by passing laws that the vast majority of those constituents are begging for.
I heard a recent radio interview with blogger Jane Hamsher that made this even more stark. She made a strong case that when you look at the Democratic stances on the bank bailout and health reform* together, you saw a simple pattern: Democratic politicians handing out mountains of cash to two powerful industries that spend lots of lobbying dollars. In other words, instead of using their overwhelming majority to fix the country, the Democrats were using it to try to wrest campaign funds away from their political rivals for the next Congressional elections. Once she put it that way (and tied it in to the efforts of Obama chief of staff, the slimy Rahm Emanuel), I have a hard time seeing it any other way.
Are the Democrats weak, or evil? When they keep hurting you, does it matter?
* the Democratic “health insurance reform” seems to be one where 40-50 million Americans will be forced to buy health insurance from private health insurance companies** (which is a lot of new customers), and pharmaceutical companies will not be pressured to lower prices/profits. The only “reform” part is that poor folks might get subsidies to help buy their insurance (your tax dollars going to Aetna and Blue Shield), and the possibility that the insurance companies will be prohibited from declining you health care for pre-existing conditions. And, in my super-cynical opinion, the laws regulating that will probably be vague and weak.
** unless the “public option” goes through, which does not look probable. And even if it did, the estimates I’ve seen are that about 9-10 million Americans will be using it. That still leaves around 30-40 million new, forced customers.