Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why Health Care 'Deform' Might Help Elect a Few Real Progressives

Posted by Daniela Perdomo, AlterNet at 1:00 PM on December 15, 2009.

There is overwhelming disappointment at Obama's attempts for bipartisan health reform. But the good news is there's a glimmer of hope for the election of true progressives in 2010.

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I don't call health care reform by that name anymore -- it's entered the unequivocal health care deform category, in my book.

Joe Lieberman is holding real reform hostage, and Harry Reid is weighing only two terrible options: 1) passing a bill devoid of a public option and Medicare expansion, which is the only way he'll secure Lieberman's vote; or 2) instituting an untriggerable trigger, in order to appease Olympia Snowe. Worst of all is Reid framing this as his being backed into a corner -- as if two of the worst options possible are the only ones to choose from.

Forgive the bah-humbug start to this post, but, as they say, this is not "change we can believe in," and I'm getting tired of using Obama's campaign slogan to voice my frustrations about the Democratic leadership's doublespeak.

And new polling shows that I'm not the only one feeling incredibly let-down by the state of the health care nondebate in Washington. This is not surprising to you and me, sure, but given the blind mess in Congress, it appears the polling I'm about to share with you will come as a surprise to Obama, Emanuel, Reid, & Partners.

The poll in question, conducted by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America, finds that 58 percent of all Americans -- Republicans, too! -- want a public option, and 57 percent are for a public option plus Medicare expansion. Support is in the high eighties among Democrats.

And I'm sharing this for a sad laugh: 81 percent of Democrats want to see Lieberman stripped of his committee chairmanship if he derails health care reform. (I ought note that the question also mentioned that he campaigned for John McCain, which is pretty leading for partisan Dems.)

Further, 84 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of independents say they would rather see Obama fighting for the policies he championed during the presidential campaign rather than trying to work with Republicans in a bipartisan manner. Yeah, no kidding.

But the questions that most interested me were the ones that made reference to the 2010 mid-term elections. One asks whether health care reform not including a public option would make one less likely to vote for Democrats next November. Thirty-nine percent of independents said it would -- and an astounding 53 percent of Democrats said the same. Thirty-three percent of independents said that omission of a public option would likely result in keeping them away from the polls completely.

Yet my favorite question overall was one posed to Dems only: "If a Democratic member of Congress votes against a public health insurance option, would you want a more progressive candidate to run against them in a Democratic primary?"

Eighty-four percent said yes.

To me, that sounds like left-of-left-of-center politicians -- perhaps even third-party candidates, gasp! -- may have a terrific chance at unseating all the Blue Dogs, Conservadems, whatever-you-call-thems that Rahm Emanuel helped elect to Congress in an attempt to gain a partisan majority that ultimately leaves us with no ideological majority, which is what matters most.

Progressive voters -- if they recognize the importance of the mid-term elections -- can turn Congress into a legislative body where the tyranny of a few need not dictate the language of the most important bills of our generation.


Tagged as: congress, polls, obama, joe lieberman, white house, rahm emanuel, health care reform, public option

Daniela Perdomo is a contributing writer & editor at AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter.

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