The last eight years have been a nightmare for progressives. The Bush Administration pushed this country back decades and it had an eager partner in Congress. For six years, the Democrats sat back and watched while a Republican Executive and Congress passed law after law with no hands reaching across the aisle to engage the other party. When the Democrats won back Congress in 2006, the Republicans continued to turn their noses at the majority and dangled the filibuster rule over the heads of the Congressional leaders.
The Democrats finally have the votes to overcome a filibuster, but they are squandering their power. While it is wonderful to reach across the aisle, the other side doesn't want to play nice. Of the bills passed under the Obama Administration, many of them have had very little Republican support, despite efforts to unite the parties to do the greater good. Only three Republicans voted for the Lilly Ledbetter Act, only one voted to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor, and only three voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Now we're at the precipice of passing the most meaningful legislation in a generation, and Democrats are allowing themselves to be party to petty bickering. They should stop trying to engage Republicans on this issue and work amongst themselves to get health care reform passed. Republicans aren't going to agree to this legislation in any form and negotiating is just letting them control the debate. The right wing of the party has made it perfectly clear that it has no interest in supporting any type of reform and it will come after any Republicans who even consider negotiating with Democrats on health care reform.
It is hard to make the moral argument for health care reform to people with health insurance because too many people only care about themselves. If they have good insurance, why should they care about reform? Instead, I've pointed out that they don't actually have great insurance and passing this legislation helps them as much as the next person. I'm going to make the same argument to congressional Democrats. Forget the moral obligation to give all Americans access to health care, think about yourselves. You can't win your next election if this legislation doesn't pass.
Democrats on all sides of the political spectrum should understand they will be facing the heat whether or not this bill passes. The Republican Party is already making plans to use the bill against Democrats next fall, no matter how law makers vote. The Blue Dogs should take that important fact into consideration when they weigh their options. Remember Blue Dogs: the insurance and health care industries are also padding the pockets of your Republican counterparts. You can take their money, but you can and probably will lose if this legislation fails to pass.
Why? If health care reform fails to pass, you won't be looked at in your district as the super hero who knocked down what you considered to be a bad bill. To your constituents against reform, you'll be looked at a part of a losing team. To your constituents for reform, you'll be looked at as yet another greedy cog in a machine greased with the dollars of an industry that treats human beings as liabilities.
Wake up, Democrats. Any thinking person knows health care reform must pass to save the lives and livelihoods of all Americans, insured and uninsured. Stop trying to pander to the party willing to distort the truth and outright lie. You can't win against a bully that has no morals or scruples. Standing up to Republicans will let them know you finally mean business not just on health care reform, but on pushing the agenda we have all waited eight long years to see come to fruition.