Time for Democratic leadership to hear its angry constituents
Daily Kos Yesterday: "Yes I'm Angry...angry at the Democratic leadership -- and yes, even some of our fellow “progressives”..."
Angry Mouse speaks for many (You Sure Are Angry) as a featured writer on the front page of the Internet's largest progressive forum, Daily Kos, where the mission is, specifically, to help elect Democrats. She's angry:
...Angry at a two-party system that favors corporations over people; angry at a justice system that most severely punishes those who are least able to fight back; angry at the media who refuses to call a lie a lie; angry at a health care system that allows private corporations to profit by allowing the sick to suffer and die; angry at the terrorists who want to deprive women of our reproductive autonomy; angry at the misogynists who want us to know our place; angry at the Democratic leadership -- and yes, even some of our fellow “progressives” -- for treating women's rights as a fringe issue; angry at anyone who feels the need to question whether it’s really necessary to be so angry.
This is another loud shout in a growing and louder trend of unhappiness and, dare I say -- distrust -- with the inability of Democrats to get it together.
President Obama's been unwilling to address the issues that many of his constituency regard as defining the Democratic Party, where he is reshaping health care policy in ways that dismay his 'retarded liberal' supporters.
'Retarded' is what Rahm Emmanuel called the hardcore Obama rank-and-file who go by a different appelation in the lexicon of David Plouffe. Says Plouffe: "Staff are replaceable. A mass of dedicated volunteers is not."
Those dedicated volunteers are part of a core group of 'angry mice' who I suspect share feelings of betrayal with other progressives. They're outraged that Democratic leadership has sold them down the river in an apparent bid to cobble together a package that might at least look like it's 'bipartisan' while foregoing essentials like reproductive rights.
And they're angry at what's slowly become clearer ever since a White House deal with the health insurance lobby was reported, last August. That careful word-parsing has delayed understanding that the Administration removed what most recognize as public options from the negotiation table earlier in the process.
Several hospital lobbyists involved in the White House deals said it was understood as a condition of their support that the final legislation would not include a government-run health plan paying Medicare rates — generally 80 percent of private sector rates — or controlled by the secretary of health and human services.
“We have an agreement with the White House that I’m very confident will be seen all the way through conference,” one of the industry lobbyists, Chip Kahn, director of the Federation of American Hospitals, told a Capitol Hill newsletter.
Likewise, it was clear by August that the White House made no effort to move Republican-lite Blue Dogs away from their comfort zone inside the perimeters of healthcare insurance camps.
“The House has largely been a sideshow,” said Representative Jim Cooper of Tennessee, a member of the so-called Blue Dog caucus of conservative Democrats. “The Senate Finance Committee is where it really matters.
And so, it's this dynamic that many see playing out as Obama finally appears to be getting just what is at stake, now, and in the face of a tide of hard questions about his operation.
Now it's an open question whether the crisis of confidence suffered by the Obama faithful under the health care strategy advised by Rahm Emmanuel will put his position in the Administration at risk, or not.
But the surgically precise excision of single-payer and/or public options from what was negotiable by the White House, and especially in trade of those signature objectives for the myth of a bipartisan bill, gouged a substantial wound that's now oozing distrust from the President's base.
The signs were there in August, just not obvious:
Still, industry lobbyists say they are not worried. “We trust the White House,” Mr. Kahn said. “We are confident that the Senate Finance Committee will produce a bill we fully can endorse.”
That distrust begs another open question as more difficult, whether Obama is sincere, or can be, about the promise to appease progressives after an up or down vote should it pass the reconciled product of Congressional Demcratic efforts to date. Experience so far leaves that promise having a hollow ring to it.
There's little surprise, then, to find front page diaries on DailyKos.com arguably signalling the growing sentiment that may reflect, perhaps, even some of the feeling of Markos Moulitsas who -- just remember -- runs that popular blog to elect Democrats:
Had Obama let his activists lead the charge and gone to the mat for health care reform, would the outcome have been any different? "I can't say that we would have health care reform," says Moulitsas. "But people wouldn't be so demoralized. We'd have an engaged base still willing to fight for that change. And I tell you what: We would not have lost Ted Kennedy's seat."
It seems well past time that President Obama listens to more than the lobbyists and Rahm Emmanuel.
I agree with that: the President should have gone to the mat for it.
Now, however, I think he should also try listening to the 'retarded' base that wants a single-payer plan like Medicare For All, that, by putting 46 million people under care would simultaneously create jobs and keep some of those people from delays in treatment, or even keep them from dying.
Otherwise, November's much closer than it appears at the moment. By the time it arrives, the rising anger of his liberal base may have transformed itself to be heard as the voice of the mouse that roared.