Monday, March 22, 2010


The Health Care Reform bill passed the House this evening, effectively closing the chapter on one of the most historic and vitriolic debates in American history. Not a single Republican voted for the bill. That's not a surprise, I suppose, but it is somewhat disappointing. I find it intellectually dishonest that ZERO Republicans actually support the substance of this legislation. I just don't believe it. Nonetheless, for better or worse, the Democrats are now the proud owners of one of the biggest legislative initiatives in history. Will it be effective? I hope so, but as with all major reforms, only time will tell. Will it "ruin our country" as John Boehner claimed this morning? I think we can safely say that "no" it will not. And if you happen to believe it will, then you're clearly not someone who puts a lot of faith in the strength and endurance of America---which, ironically, is what Republicans often like to accuse Democrats of. What might ruin our country, however, is hyperbolic claims like the ones we've seen spouted over these last tempestuous months. I'd like to think that sort of behavior will abate, but with midterms coming up and the GOP ready to gain seats, I think it's just beginning---on both sides.

So what now for the Democrats? I think they need to do five things:

1) Take about three minutes to celebrate this victory and move on. This is an epic achievement, yes, but it's still a controversial one. Gloating will not sit will. Obama has already struck the right tone in remarks tonight by not wanting to make it a "political" win. Even though the Republicans didn't want this bill, they had a hand in making parts of it stronger. The Democrats would be well served to remind people of this...if only to further quash the idea that this somehow circumvented the constitutional process of law making.

2) Make sure this bill is implemented correctly. Much like the war in Iraq, the mission isn't accomplished just because you achieve one victory. Rebuilding a nation requires significant planning, and rebuilding a health care system is not terribly different. It can't be done half-assed. There are bound to be unforeseen problems with a 2,000 page bill and the government has a duty to deal with these issues as zealously as they pursued passage of the bill. It's not sexy or exciting, but THIS is where I think Obama can set himself apart from being not just about big ideas, but by showing the will to make sure it gets done right.

3) Pick a less complicated, less controversial legislative issue as the next item for business. Obama seems poised to make immigration reform his next big ticket item, but I think this would be a mistake. I like that he's ambitious and doesn't shy away from tackling the big issues, but perhaps a simpler topic is in everyone's best interests right now? Something that doesn't spark fiery passions on both sides? Something that doesn't have racial overtones at its fringes? Something with clear bipartisan support? Just saying.

4) Let the GOP talk. And talk. And talk. There's a lot of angry Republicans out there tonight, and angry people say and do stupid things. Let them. Democrats should take this opportunity to avoid the fray, put their heads down, and move forward with business. Leading by example gets noticed. You don't need to point it out like a sibling telling their parent that their brother or sister hit them first. Let the GOP be the party of hyperbolic complainers. Democrats just need to do their job.

5) Supporters of Democrats should already be thinking about the midterms, and should plan to write checks to the most vulnerable members of Congress. It's a given that Democrats will lose seats, but how many is still very much up in the air. Here's an article highlighting some of the names you should makes your checks payable to.

On a personal note, I'm obviously thrilled with passage of this bill. It's not been a good debate, however, and it's really somewhat of a dark chapter in this nations rhetorical history. Accusations of death panels, absurd comparisons to socialism, our President being called a liar by a congressman during a speech, some Tea Party protesters resorting to racial epithets, and even tonight, pro-life Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak was called a "baby killer" by another member of the House. Is this the best we can do? It's not so easy to dismiss these instances as the random acts of crazies on the fringe right. Congress, and Republicans specifically, have done little to dampen this low-brow frenzy. In fact, their actions have repeatedly encouraged it and stoked the fire. Tonight, as a protester disrupted proceedings inside the House chamber with a chant of "Kill the Bill!", many Republicans applauded and cheered the man as he was removed. This morning, responding to reports that some Tea Party protesters had shouted the word "nigger" at members of the Black Caucus, and the word "faggot" at Barney Frank, Rep. Devin Nunes of California downplayed it by saying, "Yeah, well I think that when you use totalitarian tactics (referring to the Democrats), people, you know, begin to act crazy. I think, you know, there’s people that have every right to say what they want. If they want to smear someone, they can do it." Lovely response, sir.

Look, I know the Democrats aren't perfect...and I know the Republicans don't all think, speak, vote and act alike, but I'm proud to be with this President and this party tonight.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Very political. Too deep for me. I talk about dumb crap like booz, pills and my screwed up childhood! :-)

September 11, 2010 at 11:41 PM  

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