Thursday, January 21, 2010

giving up

Speaker Pelosi says she doesn't have the votes, and doesn't give any viable alternatives.

I think the Democrats have given up on healthcare reform.

It's being described in several places as "political suicide," which it is, sure. One wonders whom, exactly, Mary Landrieu is expecting will go to the polls for her (let alone donate and volunteer!) if she runs against a Republican and yet fought tooth and nail against having to make a decision on the defining Democratic project of the last 50 years. Who does she think is her base of support? Then again, of all the controversial parts of the various bills, the public option consistently polled better than anything else, and yet it the main thing conservative Democrats wanted out of the bill, so maybe that says something about the political instincts of the "waffling is conviction" crowd.

To call this "political suicide," though, misses the mark because it's still looking at politics as theater or sport, using the "horse race" rhetoric of election-year journalism that doesn't recognize the very real way that politics affects our lives. As Jon Stewart once put it, "This isn't a f**king game."

Giving up on healthcare reform isn't suicide; it's abandonment. It's abandonment of 50 million uninsured Americans, countless millions of others who are underinsured, overcharged, and one health problem away from bankruptcy. It's abandonment of everyone who's been or will be denied coverage because of "pre-existing conditions" or dropped when they get sick, and everyone victimized by the "death by spreadsheet" business model of American insurance companies. And it's abandonment of everyone who put their hopes in a new Congress, a new party, and a new president to finally make things right.

Yes, this means that Obama voters are going to stay home in November, and the blood of conservative and moderate Democrats will flow like a river down the steps of the Capitol, but the real "news" is that as many as 101,000 people will die needlessly in 2013 because Congress couldn't maneuver a health reform bill through a 59 seat majority. Which one of those massacres actually matters?

UPDATE: then again, this makes one wonder if the only bill Democrats ever stood a chance of passing was one that does more harm than good, anyway.

1 comment:

Dickerson said...

Yes. If health care is important - and it is - then it is important enough to risk one's re-election over. Because if those in Congress were even remotely comprehend the implications of "public service," then they would have no other choice than to sacrifice their legacies joyfully on the altar of progress. Of course, given the incumbency rate, we know that service to anyone other than themselves is quite unthinkable. It reminds me of something Andrew Sullivan wrote in one of his many lucid screeds against torture: if the Bushies thought that they truly had no other option, then fine. Torture. But subject yourself to the rule of law after you do what you believe is necessary. That would be close to heroic. Instead, we got cowards who did more to harm our country than any terrorist has or could. And I'm not sure whether I mean "Republicans" or "Democrats" when I say "cowards" and, worse, I'm not sure that it makes a bit of difference. To me or to the 100,000+ you mentioned.