Democrats Boosting Right-Wing Populism

In his triumphant speech on election night, the next senator from Massachusetts should have thanked top Democrats in Washington for all they did to make his victory possible.

For a year now, leading Democrats have steadily embraced more corporate formulas for “healthcare reform.” In the name of political realism, they have demobilized and demoralized the Democratic base. In the process, they’ve fueled right-wing populism.

The Democratic leadership on healthcare and so much else — including bank bailouts, financial services, foreclosures and foreign policy — has been so corporate that Republicans have found it easy to play populist.

Fixated on passage of something that could be called “healthcare reform,” the Democratic establishment has propagated the myth that enacting such a law is vital to the political viability of the Obama presidency.

With few exceptions, the most progressive members of Congress have twisted themselves into knots to move with the choreography from the White House. The worse the healthcare bill got, the more they strained to lavish incongruous praise on it.

Defenders of the current healthcare legislation don’t like to acknowledge how thoroughly corporate it is. In the wake of the Senate election in Massachusetts, we’re sure to see a new wave of mass emails from progressive groups urging a renewed fight for a public option. But the Obama administration threw a public option under the Pennsylvania Avenue bus well before the GOP victory in Massachusetts finalized its burial.

Key provisions — such as a mandate requiring individuals to buy private health insurance without a public option — are giveaways to mega-corporations on a scale so vast that it boggles the mind.

Such a federal healthcare law — massively combining an intrusive government mandate with corporate power — would be a godsend to right-wing populism for decades.

Government power should be used for the common good, not for humongous profiteering. But on the near horizon is a law that would further bloat already-bloated corporate coffers while undermining basic precepts of a social compact.

The mandate places legal, financial and ideological burdens on the individual for healthcare. In the process, at best, many low-income people would only have access to inferior coverage with plenty of holes.

Rather than affirm the principle of healthcare as a human right, the current scenarios for healthcare reform lay out limited federal subsidies for private insurance premiums — in effect, an entitlement program in political terms, sure to be vulnerable to the kind of safety-net shredding that has done so much harm in recent decades.

The current versions of healthcare reform, New York Times economics writer David Leonhardt noted on January 20, “are more conservative than Bill Clinton’s 1993 proposal. For that matter, they’re more conservative than Richard Nixon’s 1971 plan, which would have had the federal government provide insurance to people who didn’t get it through their job.”

One of the biggest themes — repeated endlessly by pundits and meme-prone Democrats — has been the assertion that getting “healthcare reform” signed into law is essential for the political viability of a Democratic Congress and the Obama presidency. But at this point, given what’s on the table under the Capitol Dome, the opposite is likely to be the case.

If Obama signs the kind of healthcare legislation now in the pipeline, it will be a political gift to the Republicans — and a crowning negative achievement of bad leadership for the congressional majority.

Key House Democrats declared throughout most of 2009 that they would only support a healthcare reform bill with a “robust” public option. Now the same members of Congress are saying they’ll be pleased to vote for a final bill with no public option at all.

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Meanwhile, at the grassroots, many progressives are apt to buy into a false choice between capitulating inside the Democratic Party or staying away from it. But there’s another option: an inside/outside strategy that involves openly fighting for progressive power within the party while also organizing outside of it.

If we want more progressive officeholders, then elections are part of the process: beginning with Democratic primaries this year. Support genuine progressive candidates — and if you don’t see any, maybe you should do some recruiting. There’s no time to lose.

Norman Solomon

Originally published in Common Dreams. Reprinted with the author’s permission.

About Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.

Comments

  1. jacksmith says:

    A LINE IN THE SAND – From jacksmith – WorkingClass

    My Fellow Americans and People Of The World

    A strong Government-run MEDICARE like Public Option is STILL! CRITICAL!

    We have had a long hard struggle to find out what would be the BEST! that this congress and the Whitehouse could do to fix our highly dangerous, poor quality, most costly, and MOST! disgraceful healthcare delivery system in the world. It is clear that congress can do much more for the American people than what is proposed so far.

    It is clear that congress can pass a strong GOVERNMENT-run public option CHOICE. Available to everyone on day one. Expand Medicare and not levy any new taxes on workers healthcare benefits and plans. LET THIS BE YOUR LINE IN THE SAND!

    Lastly, there can be NO! INDIVIDUAL MANDATES without a strong Government-run MEDICARE like Public Option CHOICE. Or the American people WILL! and SHOULD! revolt with an all out CIVIL WAR against congress and this Government.

    House and Senate progressives and the tri-caucuses should aggressively push for the inclusion of a strong Public Option, Medicare expansion, and no new taxes on workers healthcare benefits and plans. If the obstructionist kill meaningful healthcare reform, then you should kill this bill. Because it will be far worse than the healthcare disaster we have now. It’s failure will be on the obstructionist heads. And they will be punished and replaced.

    WITHOUT A PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE, THIS BILL WILL KILL FAR MORE AMERICANS THAN IT WILL SAVE.

    What is proposed in the Senate bill is the worst case scenario for health-care reform. It would shift trillions of taxpayer, public and private dollars into the hands of the private insurance industry (The single most costly, deadly and dangerous product sold in America). And it would compel by law millions of Americans to financially support this oxymoronic criminal enterprise. You cant have a individual MANDATE WITHOUT A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE!

    You will have NO! realistic way of controlling cost and quality. Cost will continue soaring through the roof bleeding the American people dry, and KILLing our economy. And our quality of healthcare will continue to decline below our current ranking of “WORST! quality of healthcare delivery in the developed World”.

    From the very start, the American people have been crystal clear about what they wanted. They wanted a humane single payer system like the rest of the developed world has (HR676). Or at least a humane strong GOVERNMENT-run public option CHOICE!! This is what the American people gave the democrats control of the house, control of the senate, and control of the Whitehouse to do.

    Those of you that can, should prepare now to remove every member of congress that fails to support YOUR healthcare reform with a strong Public Option, Medicare expansion, and no new taxes on workers healthcare benefits and plans. Run against them in teams if you have to. But take them out. And replace them with a strong single payer or PRO PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE candidate.

    Now! is the time to bring maximum pressure on your members of congress. Contact your representatives and spread the word.

    The Public Option http://tinyurl.com/yfftf76

    H1N1 IS A WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION!

    I have to tell you now that the H1N1 virus is a man-made WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION! and TERROR! It is a WEAPONIZED version of a flu virus. It has swept the planet infecting millions. And causing a global pandemic that has killed tens of thousands, and injured millions.

    The H1N1 virus is the product of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! It was released in the U.S. in Texas in early January of last year, but not recognized until around April 2009 in California. The reason I know this is because when it came to America, it came to see me FIRST! How sweet…

    This was around the time the MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! assaulted the Whitehouse with all their devils deals to cripple and weaken YOUR! healthcare reform. Especially your right to have a single payer system like HR676 (Medicare For All) which most of you wanted.

    They don’t even want you to have your HUGE!!! compromise position of a strong government-run MEDICARE like Public Option CHOICE. To compete with their DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, MURDEROUS, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT PRODUCT (The single most costly, deadly and dangerous product sold in America).

    They also wanted to take away your rights to have your government meet it’s responsibility to use it’s full power to regulate, negotiate, and control drug cost, healthcare cost and quality. Something every other civilized country in the developed World has done for it’s people. Their Greed! moral degeneracy and lack of patriotism knows no bounds.

    Many of you will remember that before we knew about H1N1. I posted a open message to the President and Congress warning them to be vigilant about their health, and cautious about any medical advice they received. As I said then “they will not hesitate to try and hurt you”.

    The U.S. and the World have been under a BIOLOGICAL TERROR ATTACK! for over a year now. It is CRITICAL that We The People Of The United States take away control of our healthcare system from the GREED DRIVEN MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

    For our own National security, and the security of the world.

    A Strong, government-run, MEDICARE like Public Option CHOICE. Available to everyone on day one, with the full unfettered power of the federal government to regulate, negotiate, and control cost and quality. Would be the most workable way to deal with this global crisis at this time. Including patent suspensions as needed for national security or the greater good.

    As an American I invite the peoples of the World to help us fix our healthcare crisis. And bring pressure on our government to meet it’s responsibility to protect global security by controlling, and removing the corrupting influence of GREED and the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT motivations from healthcare in the U.S. and around the World.

    I call on the governments of the World and the global intelligence community to track down these MASS MURDERERS, and bring them to justice. CONNECT THE DOTS! And be vigilant that they don’t slip in another viral strain on you under the cloak of H1N1 sequestration.

    Further, the proposed patent protection on biologic’s must be stripped from the US bill. And greatly shorten/restricted, or abolished completely. This is a grave danger to humanity and global security.

    I think President Obama is doing the best he can at playing the disastrous deck of cards he inherited from the previous administration. And I think he is doing an excellent job. But the wolves and devils of the medical industrial complex! are trying to exploit, and take advantage of his good heart, and desperate desire to help suffering Americans. But we must be strong and insist that healthcare reform be done right for the American people. Or everyone loose’s.

    This is all I can say in a message post. I’ll try to find a way to tell you more later.

    God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings

    jacksmith – Working Class

    p.s. The so-called nominal H1N1 virus is designed in such a way as to make it more lethal to children and young adults. The medical community must be more vigilant of secondary bacterial infections in the young caused by H1N1. And remember, a viral infection is also a transfer of genetic code to you. Think about it, and be vigilant. :-(

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