The public is positive. Any Democrat can turn our health care victory into a winning issue. Those who were afraid were always wrong.
While the press has tried a few, “Bad News for Democrats?” articles after this historic success, it’s not sticking well. For those of you unfamiliar with this inside joke, it’s conventional wisdom among the press that when Republicans win, it’s bad news for Democrats, and when Democrats win, it’s bad news for Democrats.
Well, this isn’t good news for Democrats…it’s fantastic news for Democrats. For those who doubted Democrats could ever live up to their promises in office, this is proof (although the public option shall not be forgotten, this bill made it more likely that we will have a public option one day, whereas failure would have sealed our fate for a generation). For those who felt that Democrats could never display any spine or organization, this bill could have passed no other way. For those who have ever uttered the familiar trope, “The Republicans and Democrats are just two wings of the same party!” the line in the sand is clearly drawn.
Moreso, the public can look at the behavior of Democrats and Republicans now and learn some instructive lessons. Shrill Republicans screeching at the top of their lungs about “totalitarian” tactics sound like sore loser idiots. Tea partiers yelling “Nigger” and “Faggot” at Congressmen reveal the level of pathological contempt boiling within. Those signing the Club for Growth petition to repeal the bill look like a cavalry of Don Quixotes preparing to joust a mountain. On the other hand, Democrats showed the country every last effort to compromise, to move towards the center, to negotiate, to debate, to put things out in the open for the public to see. Democrats fought bitterly for the public option but let it go in order to move forward. That is America. We strive, and fight, and we dream the grandest dreams. We dream of mansions, but if we find ourselves in a two bedroom house, we call it our home. And we get to work making it better so that it will be worth something to our children.
The Democratic Party has seen over forty years pass without a noteworthy display of strength against constant Republican warfare, beyond Clinton’s showdown against Newt Gingrich which earned a brief period of fiscal responsibility before the Republicans took power and squandered our wealth. With the ascent of Barack Obama, we have seen strength, cunning, flexibility and tenacity at work. I still look back and wonder why he couldn’t have been stronger at certain points, why he couldn’t have engaged in the full court press on the public option, if he mightn’t have helped Democrats along at one point or another. But then there is the trick of it all that I cannot deny. Today he signed a big fat piece of paper titled, “I Knew What I Was Doing All Along.” I may wish to cherish a bit longer the idea that it could have been handled a bit better, but the plain fact is that Obama had fooled me more than once, and I am humbled. He did what neither Roosevelt, nor Truman, nor Kennedy, nor Johnson, nor Carter, nor Clinton could do. Some of us may entertain the notion that a President Kucinich might have gotten us single payer health care, but it is a lazy fantasy shed of all responsibility or reality. And I say this as a person who fundamentally agrees with everything Noam Chomsky says here. Yes, I know the water is dirty, but I have come a long way through the desert, and now that I am stronger, I may set out once again.