“Moderate” Democrats are the problem, not the Right
Posted by Kevin on June 12, 2009
Chris Bowers of Open Left (via AlterNet) has a great post on heath care reform, the “public option,” and how it’s more important for progressives to go after the so-called “moderate” Democrats in Congress (a totally misleading term referring to Dems whoring themselves out to the health insurance industry; i.e. the Blue Dogs, Evan Bayh, Arlen Specter, and so on) than it is to attack conservatives. From Bowers:
Here is a message that progressive organizations and media outlets need to start sending to all Democratic party committees and members of Congress:
We are done attacking Republicans until you pass a public option for health care.
Until a public option is passed, I don’t want to hear about the latest hate and idiocy spewing from Limbaugh, or Tancredo, or Palin, or Gingrich, or whoever. And to tell you the truth, I don’t want to attack them for it, either. Because, right now, Republicans are not the obstacle to progressive governance. Instead, Democrats who refuse to support a public option are the obstacle.
I recommend reading the whole post, with which I couldn’t agree more.
It’s the Democrats that control most of the levers of power these days, so failure to enact progressive legislation lies entirely with them. They can’t blame opposition from the Republicans anymore, who have almost no influence at the national level (although you wouldn’t know that from media coverage). Rather, the blame lies entirely with the group of corporate Dems frequently described as “moderates” or “centrists” (thanks to whom conservatives still essentially have a majority in Congress), and with the party that refuses to challenge them.
The Democratic leadership’s excuse du jour for watering down legislation is the need to appease these “moderates,” yet they steadfastly oppose any public pressure on them from the progressive movement, let alone primary challenges aimed at replacing them with progressives. A case in point is Arlen Specter, whose reelection Obama has said he’ll support literally no matter what Specter does. Why do they work so hard to keep people like this in office? Is it perhaps because it offers a convenient way to avoid doing the right thing, like in the current health care debate?
As Bowers puts it:
We should be naming names, flying to their home states to hold large rallies, and lining up primary challengers against public-option averse Democrats. Instead, our leaders are holding fundraisers for them, pressuring their primary opponents, and hosting dinners in their honor. Kind of makes you wonder how serious even those Democrats in favor of the public option are about change. [emphasis added]
If you doubt this, then consider that the tolerance by Obama and the rest of the Democratic leadership of opposition from the “moderates” on issues like the public option stands in stark contrast to their willingness to bully progressives on war funding. As the Huffington Post reported just today, administration officials are threatening to withhold support at reelection from freshmen in Congress who vote against the supplemental war spending bill. This dynamic – coddling of “moderates,” bullying of progressives – demonstrates loud and clear the real priorities of the Democratic establishment.
All of this perfectly illustrates why I come down so much harder on Democrats and their progressive enablers than Republicans. I hate Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly as much as the next progressive, and I can see the appeal in attacking them due to the easy target they present and how egregiously offensive they are, but focusing on them while treating corporate Dems as a lesser evil isn’t going to bring us any closer to change. As I’ve said previously, the Dems are “frequently in a position to implement progressive policies, or to stop conservative ones, but choose not to.” On many issues right now, the Dems are the ones standing in our way; they’re the ones we should be fighting.