The Democrats are split in a way that could hurt their goals to turn the majority in, at least the House, from red to blue. We have the Bernie Sanders Progressives suggesting we “go big or go home”. And we have the Obama wing that does not necessarily want to blow up Capitalism; that wants to stay with the current array of power brokers and money people. These folks back the social safety net but they like to straddle the extremes and they like to back public/private partnerships. They do not like the smack of “socialism” that Bernie’s peeps seem comfortable with. There are even two Democratic leaders, the official, duly elected Tom Perez of the DNC, and Keith Ellison, the ersatz leader of the Progressives (sort of like when Europe had two popes). Of course there is also the point that Sanders is registered as an Independent, not a Democrat.
Republicans have chosen to make their stand on health care and so that is where we find ourselves in pitched battle. Bernie has decided to heat up his single payer campaign. The moderates have been offering to take the poorest and sickest people off the hands of the for-profit private insurance industry with their public option (Medicaid). The Republicans are trying to shrink the role the federal government plays in the lives of less affluent Americans, because, they argue, we are robbing them of the incentive to thrive, and incidentally they are not real Americans or they would not sink so low, and because it hurts business and lowers profits. (The Republicans seem a bit preoccupied with money and the image America presents to the world and yet they are the party that gave us 45.)
So recently I have found myself, mostly out of disgust at the tendency on the right to abandon even the appearance of principled politics, tuning in to the message of the Progressives. Speaking of unprincipled politics, there is the rumored back room strategy to get reluctant House members to vote for the newest version of the Republican Health Care Plan by taking block grant money away from blue states and giving it to red states. Is this still business as usual or is this kind of partisan bargaining more underhanded (and possibly less legal) than anywhere politicking has been willing to go before. Someone will dredge up a precedent for this behavior from their deep knowledge of all things political, but I will still find this shocking.
When faced with bad ideology, and refusal to come to the negotiating table, and dirty dealing why would the Dems not go nuclear and adopt a Progressive platform focused on “we the people”. Moderate Dems are unwilling to give up the middle ground because they feel that they may lose important supporters, and perhaps they feel that giving Progressives free rein will change the very nature of our Democracy.
I don’t think it takes much imagination to guess what the private health insurers are saying about Single Payer.
If it ends up that it is not the right time to be extreme, will it be a mine field to retreat back to the public/private arena? Risks are risky and all could be lost. But it looks like we will be stuck in this place where Republicans keep bringing up their terrible health insurance plan until it finally passes and we must live with it. Perhaps it is best to ask for more than we think we can ever get so that a least some boons will be granted to citizens, who seem to be in control of America “in name only”.
Unite the Democrats on a Progressive message and at least we will not split our votes.