When the full truth is told about the secret deals that will define the fiscal future of America and the fate of programs at the heart of the Democratic Party heritage, it will be clear that Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is the most important leader in Washington carrying the torch, against great odds, for what true Democrats stand for.
Dear readers, it is my job as a columnist to try to tell you the truth, as I see it, and as I know it.
Here is the truth as I see it, and as I know it, that you will not see on the cable news or read in the morning papers, and it begins with this:
In the last 72 hours a Democratic president who shows increasing disrespect for the Democratic base, Democratic leaders and members of the House, Democratic leaders and members of the Senate, and the great heritage programs of the Democratic party from great Democratic presidents, has been trying, through backroom deals with Republicans that exclude top Democratic leaders, to make concessions that most real Democrats would believe violate our heritage as a party. Not for the first time.
This strategy cost the Democrats dearly in the 2010 elections, and was the greatest factor leading to the Republican takeover of the House. The pattern the White House showed towards the House Democrats in 2010 is now being replicated towards Senate Democrats as 2012 approaches.
I give credit as a Democrat, then and now, to Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer and the House Democrats for carrying the program of change promised by Obama in 2008, even though major aspects of the programs they passed in the House, in many cases surrendered by Obama after the House passed them, led to the Republican takeover of the House.
I write these words on Friday morning, and as I write, the battle rages again, with ever-higher stakes, and the pattern repeats itself, with ever-high consequences, and the torch of the great Democratic heritage is being carried by Harry Reid.
Of course the House Democrats continue to be relegated to the back of the bus by a Democratic president. House Democratic leaders are ignored in the negotiations, unless the president believes he desperately needs their votes in the House, at which point they are invited to key meetings, though when he believes he doesn’t need their votes, they are ignored, again.
Now this cavalier treatment is being extended to Democratic Senators, as the White House meets with Republican leaders and at key moments, on key matters, does so without the consent and at times even without the knowledge of Democratic leaders.
Every Democrat in America who believes in the values and heritage of the Democratic party owes Harry Reid a debt of gratitude for standing up for what we as Democrats believe.
Had Harry Reid, and other key Democrats in the Senate, including Senator John Kerry, not stood tall this week, a deal would have been cut between the president and Republicans that would have outraged Democrats across the nation.
I know far more than I can say right now, but the above is clear based on numerous public reports. What the media does not tell you, is what I am telling you today, which is why this is happening, and what we as Democrats should, in my opinion, do.
The view of the White House is that the Democratic base can be ridiculed because, in the end, the Republican nominee will be so far to the right that the base will be forced to vote for Obama. This is view is cynical and false, as witnessed in 2010, when too many Democrats simply stayed home.
The view of the White House today is that Democrats in Congress can be bypassed at the key moment of secret talks with Republicans, and then informed of the results, thinking either that Democratic leaders and members will be forced to accept any deal or be blamed for the crash that will follow any default, or that Republican votes alone can pass a debt ceiling with few Democratic votes. This view, as well, is both cynical and wrong.
Many Democrats believe their participation in politics does not matter. Enough believed this in 2010 to stay home and elect a Republican House. My plea to you is this: don’t believe this. It isn’t true whether this view is advocated by Republicans who want to depress Democrats, or a White House that takes Democrats for granted.
Today Harry Reid, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and many Democrats in the Senate and House are fighting like hell for things they, and we, believe in. They may win, they may lose, they cannot rely on a Democratic president, but they need and deserve our support and our recognition for the battle they are waging.
Now, understand, in this column I am violating every rule of Washington insiders, of whom I am one. You will not read this in the papers. You will not see this on the cable news. Democrats are supposed to play their Kabuki roles in a phony drama without the subtleties and without, very often, the truth. And the truth today is that Harry Reid is fighting a rearguard battle for what we as Democrats believe in, and even though our position has majority support in the nation, the president is being advised by some to sell us out on matters at the heart of what Democrats believe in.
I urge every Democrat, progressive, liberal and populist who reads that reads these words to call your members of the House and Senate, and the White House, and push with every fiber of your being for a deficit deal that honors what the American people want and what the Democratic Party believes in.
I urge every Democrat, progressive, liberal and populist who reads these words to give their time, their energy and their donations to Democrats in the House and Senate who are fighting for what we believe in, and to give their support to Majority PAC, which is working to keep a Democratic Senate, and House Majority PAC, which is working to elect a Democratic House.
Above all, and especially to young people who may have been disillusioned over the last two years, and men and women who believe in the traditions and progressive ideals of the great Democrats, do not let anyone tell you that your participation does not matter, because it does, and do not let anyone take you for granted, including a Democratic White House, because the stakes are too high and the cause too important.
In the coming hours some major issues that will define the future of America are being negotiated in backrooms, and we must force ourselves into those backrooms, and stand with Harry Reid and others who are fighting for us, and our pledge should be:
Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. and vice-presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at [email protected]