Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Massachusetts...Part II

Sorry for yet another rambling post, but, well, we have come around to being only a few hours away from the polls opening in Massachusetts and it does not look as promising as it did the night before. As it stands a slew of polls came out Monday that would indicate a victory for Scott Brown over Martha Coakley up in Massachusetts. Furthermore, even Nate Silver over at FiveThirtyEight has moved this over into the Lean Brown category for tomorrow. Given his ability to accurately predict…quite frankly everything in the 2008 Senate races, I’m rather inclined to believe that Brown stands a good shot at winning. Naturally this will create press that no one here will want to see. Glenn Beck will likely cry tears of joy for this country, and make this moment a rallying cry for conservatives and his oddball 9/12 project. Sean Hannity will develop the biggest man crush on Scott Brown that’s humanly imaginable. And lord knows that somehow Rush Limbaugh will find a way to make some odd comment with racial undertones about this being an Obama failure.

We all know that this is coming, the key behind it is the decision of where the party must go immediately afterwards with regards to Health Care. The truth of the matter is that there are only a few options. None of them are ideal, but here they are:

1. Continue on with the process of the Conference Committee bill and attempt to bring Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins onboard.

2. Continue on with the Conference Committee bill, and pass it quickly before the Massachusetts Secretary of State can certify the election results, an action which he said could take weeks and, by law, must give at least 10 days for absentee ballots to arrive, and an extra five days beyond that for cities and towns to verify and report ballots, totaling at least 15 days, or February 3rd.

3. Attempt to push the already passed Senate bill through the House of Representatives in its exact form.

4. Attempt to start going through the budget reconciliation process to pass the bill in the Senate.

5. Walk away and take this as a sign of the public’s distaste for the entirety of “Obamacare.”

In reality, option one is something of a pipe dream. Neither of these two is likely to help pass this bill without getting the sun, moon, and stars given to them. Hell, the entire bill would practically need to be written by one of these two. Option two would certainly enable us to pass the bill, but would be catastrophic in regards to independent voters who sit the fence. Many of them would be livid about the idea of completely overriding the views of the people in this election, and they wouldn’t be that far off, even if we’d like the result on Health Care. Additionally, option four; though enticing in regards to a possibly more liberal bill will carry this tumultuous journey down an elongated path that is far from productive.

Option five is the one that many will likely call for, especially among House Democrats, who are panicky and will begin having sleepless nights over the 2010 = 1994 theory. Furthermore, pundits throughout the series of tubes we call the internet are already saying that this will indicate a need to pause and think, indicate that it is an indictment on President Obama, and indicate that there will indeed be a landslide victory for Republicans in 2010.

While I entirely understand this thought process, option five actually has the potential to be even worse than option two when it comes to the midterm elections. Essentially, we will have dragged Congress and the country through an 8-9 month war over Health Care Reform, and come out of it with nothing. Furthermore, House Democrats, and those unlucky enough to be up for re-election in 2010 in the Senate will have to explain why we did all of this under the backdrop of a horrific economy, ignored the will of the people, and will have absolutely nothing to show for it and explain as the “Why?” of it all.

Looking back at the fabulous unity that Democrats have displayed throughout Congress, and the seventeen years Harry Reid aged during this process dragging certain members of the Senate kicking and screaming, chances are this will be exponentially worse going into the mid-terms. This will naturally cause campaign funds to crater without a consistent message and a terribly unenthused base, which will in turn result in a ten month death march for the Democratic Party until November 2nd.

Contrary to the infinite wisdom that the press and blogosphere have now, and will continue to offer should Coakley lose, option three, from both a political and governmental standpoint, is not only the best option, but one that will absolutely need to be chosen. Regardless of what the House already passed a while back, if they were to take up the exact same bill that passed through the Senate on Christmas Eve, this would become the Health Care bill/soon to be law sitting on President Obama’s desk for signature. We would actually see Health Care reform, admittedly a less than ideal set of reforms, in our time. Furthermore, no one could accuse the Democrats of choosing the illegitimate victory that option two would provide.

From a political standpoint this is essential though because it gives Democrats something they can work with. With something signed into law, Democrats have a set list of principles, of gains and achievements, and of why we fought for the bill that passed. On the other hand, not passing this bill opens up Democrats to a slew of additional attacks. Democrats will not only have been “out of touch” with society, but will be unprincipled.

Many will likely panic and admit they were wrong in hopes of still being re-elected, while others will still say we should have passed the bill, splintering the Democratic Party’s message. Furthermore, every story the Right concocted to kill this legislation while there were a million different bills working through committee will carry weight because there won’t be a bill to point to and call it a lie. So remember those death panels we fought for? How we had a provision in there to send a man out with a scythe, a real one, ya know on a black horse to the homes of everyone over the age of 65 to kill seniors? How there will be mandatory abortions on every third pregnancy to walk into the office on a Tuesday? Those will be back? “You betcha,” and it will be impossible for us to squelch all of them.

No conservative who became angry over this bill will suddenly not care about doing everything to remove Democrats in November, and any riled up independent is not about to jump back onto, or over the fence. Any damage has been done on that front. What can be done, however, is to do what we can to excite the base, get something out of this whole legislative battle, and come into November with a unified Democratic Party that is fighting for Democratic principles. This may still result in the loss of many seats in Congress. However, an organized retreat, and the show of willingness to go down with a fight, will result in far less bleeding than running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Plus, don’t we owe Teddy one last fight, even if it does require getting 218 (or more) people to swallow their pride, and potentially their future ambitions, for Health Care Reform?

Hopefully though, this guy is right, and none of this will need to pass anyway.

1 comment:

ShamRockNRoll said...

I don't think the problem is getting 218 people to swallow their pride in the House... the House is getting shit done. Nancy Pelosi has been a strong leader. The problem is getting Senators to do the right thing. I agree with your sentiment though. Democrats need to realize that you don't campaign to win elections, you campaign to accomplish things--and when that doesn't happen, we have no reason to send them back to D.C. in the next election.