A Dose of Reality

What is our fascination with pointless publicity stunts that can’t work?

Just this morning, a relatively prominent liberal Tweeted that “the Democrats” should “collectively” propose an alternative to the Republican ACA fixes. It was suggested that “the Democats” include a “public option” (another “progressive” noted that “Medicare for all” had a nice ring to it.) and “fixes” for the health insurance markets. First of all, the right “public option” would BE the best “fix” for the health insurance markets, but that’s just a quibble. But here’s a question for the ages:

What would be the point?

Right now, we are faced with a Republican majority that is absolutely hell-bent on getting rid of “Obamacare,” to the point that, since their “replace” bills have failed miserably, the Senate Majority Leader is now considering just repealing Obamacare and apparently waiting a few years to replace it. Suppose “the Democrats” worked on a bill as they suggest. it would take a couple of months to do so, in the first place. Then, when they proposed it, Speaker Paul Ryan, who really wants to kill the current Medicare system, let alone deal with a “Medicare for all” scenario, would bury it in about five minutes. No, make that five seconds. it would never even make it to a markup. If you have a vision that, somehow, Democrats would get some publicity out of it, let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, we had an enormously competent president, named Barack Obama. He knew we had to stimulate the economy to create a lot of jobs. The recovery was slower than it should have been. So, he brought together the leaders of the minority Democratic Party and together they created The American Jobs Act. This was a comprehensive bill that was very important and would have created millions of jobs and stimulated the economies of regions all over the country, including many in red states. The President made a big speech in Congress announcing it and he even went on a long tour to promote the effort. However, Speaker of the House John Boehner just put the thing away, and it was never heard from again. Democrats even broke the AJA into smaller pieces, and the GOP killed those, too. All except for one piece that provided job opportunities for veterans. if you were to ask 100 people about the American Jobs Act a year later, they wouldn’t know what you were talking about.

The idea that Democrats can propose a massive bill to a Republican Congress and show them up is one of the oldest canards in the professional left’s “playbook,” such as it is. it’s no wonder we lose constantly. If we are under the delusion that the electorate moves every time “the Democrats” make a bold move of some kind, then we have a serious problem with reality. Perhaps that’s why I used the word “delusion” in the previous sentence. Here are a few realities we all have to learn to deal with:

  • Most of the electorate doesn’t pay attention about 95% of the time. It’s not their fault. There is a reason we are liberals, remember? People are struggling; they have neither the time nor the energy to pay close attention to everything that happens in Congress or elsewhere. There’s something about having to work three jobs to pay the bills and raise three kids that makes it hard to pay close attention to everything that happens in the government.
  • When a political party is in the minority, they have a very limited ability to “propose” anything. That is especially true when the current Republican Party is in the majority.
  • The Speaker decides what is and isn’t seen by members of Congress. You don’t just introduce a bill and everyone gets to see it.
  • Whether they suck or not, Republicans run Congress at the moment, which means Democrats need them to get anything for their constituents.
  • The VAST MAJORITY of Americans want the parties to work together to get things done. While professional lefties don’t get it, President Obama did.
  • The only way politicians can get anything done is through support.

That last one is really important and it’s something we almost never do. When it comes to the professional left, take out the “almost.” It’s remarkable, really. They always refer to “the Democrats” as if they were some alien force and then wonder why they don’t embrace the far left with as much fervor as they could muster. Daring “the Democrats” to do something will never work. If you want “the Democrats” to do something bold, then you have to know that WE will have to do the legwork and WE will have to focus on the Republicans if we want to shame them. The very idea that “the Democrats” will propose a bill and the Republicans will be “shamed” into going along requires a suspension of reality. Support for Democrats is not the same as coercion.

Going to the trouble of writing a bold health insurance reform bill that would skunk the Republicans’ “repeal and replace” efforts SOUNDS like a great idea, but only in a fantasy. If they were to propose such a bill, it would die within seconds. Ryan would just hold onto it and effectively kill it. Worse, once a bill is killed like that, it is very difficult to gain support for it later.  There is also the fact that members of Congress have to govern, which means they have to get things for their constituents at home. That becomes far  difficult when you spend a lot of time trying to show up the majority.

The system we have right now is the one we have to live with. That means, if we wants something done, we have to work within the process to do it. It means we have to win elections. It means we have to work within districts to make sure the right people win every election. Not the perfect people, just the right people who are available We cannot obsess over every single vote on every single bill and we cannot spend so much time trying to perfect the Democratic Party and then trash them when they can’t meet those. Again; there are two choices in almost every election and we know which one belongs to a political party that doesn’t care about us. The choice is easy as hell, so we need to stop making it as if it’s a difficult choice that must be approached with a deliberation that is not necessary. I mean, do they really think they sound smarter when they imply that the choice between Republicans and Democrats is a difficult and critical choice? Well, it is critical, but it’s not difficult. it’s like choosing between Hershey’s Syrup and castor oil.

We need to support the political party that actually gives a shit. Stop referring to them as “the Democrats,” as if they’re some sort of alien force; they are US. They are as liberal as we can expect and they work their asses off to do the right thing. And stop indulging in fantasy; the FACT of the matter is, if you imagine that “the Democrats” will propose a great and bold healthcare bill and the entire electorate will gasp with joy and dance a jig and be thoroughly impressed by it and shame the GOP into accepting it, what you are imagining is not reality, in any way, shape or form. IF they decided to spend the weeks and months necessary to craft such a bill, the majority GOP would kill it immediately. No one would hear about it. If you imagine that a Congresscritter introduces a bill and it immediately becomes a thing, then you need to take a Civics 101 class. The Speaker decides what happens with it and most Democratic bills are never actualy introduced.

Join the real world. We need you. Government by stunt is not reality. Elect Democrats and then support them completely and the stunts would be unnecessary.


Also published on Medium.

6 comments

  1. I am not sure of the reasoning in this article.

    If I was thinking about strategy for Democrats in congress I would think they are better off introducing ACA-improvement legislation than not. Of course Republicans can and will block it. That is what they do. They held over 50 useless votes to repeal the ACA and it brought them electoral victory. Why? In part because they managed to convince a lot of ill-informed people, some of whom did not even know Obamacare and ACA was the same thing, that the ACA was harmful to them in some way and here they were fighting the evil liberal leviathan for you.

    At very least though they shouldn’t be able to get up on TV and say “Democrats complain but they have come up with nothing to fix the ACA!” and have it unchallenged. If true it would be just one more reason for the clueless to continue voting Republicans because Democrats don’t stand for anything.

    Further, they should have a developed plan should they get back in power.

    1. If you expect Democrats to do things the way Republicans do, you’re not getting this at all. Most voters HATE Republicans. Therefore, doing things the way they do is quite possibly the worst thing you can do.

      Nothing can be gained by proposing a far-reaching bill right now. It’s not about blocking it because it will never be introduced. Tell you what; go through the bills for this session of Congress and count the number of bills introduced by Democrats. There are virtually none of any consequence because they write them and the Speaker kills them. There is nothing to be gained.

      And frankly, if you think the Democrats stand for nothing, you’re not paying attention. They have been very vocal in opposition to the worst shit Republicans have tried to pull. That’s why you haven’t seen any bills on trump’s desk that do massive amounts of damage.

      1. And frankly, if you think the Democrats stand for nothing, you’re not paying attention. They have been very vocal in opposition to the worst shit Republicans have tried to pull. That’s why you haven’t seen any bills on trump’s desk that do massive amounts of damage.

        It is a matter of perception and message. To you and me we realize the yeoman’s work Democrats are doing in congress to mitigate the Trump/Republican depredations. What the voting public at large will more likely hear than not is that Democrats are obstructing MAGA and are offering no alternative of their own. And if you don’t have the party behind a ACA improvement plan ready to show and market it successfully you will help that perception stick. And that’s true for other issues.

        1. No, it’s not. You have unrealistic standards and for some stupid reason, you think the average voter has the same standards. They don’t. Voters vote based on competence, not stardom. You worry so much about what “the Democrats” see and hear, and yet, look at what you say. Progressives have no comprehensible message and they reject such a thing every time it’s offered, so who are we to demand that Democrats have a specific perception and message?

          I’ll just add that voters have NEVER voted en masse based on a specific “perception and message.” EVER. Why would you imagine that the average voter sits and thinks about what Democrats stand for? FFS, they can’t name a member of the Supreme Court, but you imagine they sit there with a writing pad and do a Ben Franklin close on each candidate? If you are going to sit here and tell us what Democrats “have to do” to get votes, wouldn’t it help to know what voters care about? You seem to have no clue.

  2. Please explain that to Cenk Ygur at The Young Turks. I just endured a 15:19 clip of him discussing Trump’s poor poll numbers where he spent 16:19 trashing “the Democratic establishment” and calling for primaries against every incumbent Democratic office-holder. Have fun with that.

    1. Cenk Uyger has no idea how politics works, but he thinks he knows everything, so telling him anything is a waste of time.

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