Plots and Thoughts

Health Care: Progressive Wonk Rhetoric Fail

Posted in Strategy by Captain Optimistic on January 9, 2010

Lindsay takes progressives and allies to task for tearing apart those of us who argue the Health Care bill is so pathetic and harmful it needs to die.  She effectively points out the concepts of negotiation and leverage so many powerful progressives fail to understand well enough to utilize.  However she leaves out a basic rhetorical concept that the right wing has mastered to the continuing detriment of the left: the overton window.

Lindsay observes:

Health care reform is no longer just an intellectual argument, it’s a negotiation. KTBers understand that. Wonky progressives cringe when KTBers say the bill will be worse than than nothing. When they say that, wonks hear a ridiculous overstatement. Which it probably is.

There is political power in ridiculous statements that goes beyond the act of negotiation.  If the discussion is dominated by those far to the right of our goal, and the only opposing voice is aiming for a position closer to the center than our real goals, we are losing ground.  We need people who are so committed to the ideal of universal care that they argue beyond single payer.  Where are the progressives arguing that the right to life enshrined in the constitution entitles every human being to free health care, food, and shelter?  We need people arguing that restricting our goal to only health care, and allowing co-pays at all, is a concession.  We need people arguing that health insurance companies provide such an essential service they have no right to exist as private for profit corporations!  These arguments need to be made with all the skill and fervor we can muster if they are going to be taken seriously enough to push the national discourse back towards an ethical resolution on health care reform.

If we are going to win, we need negiotiators and savvy rhetoricians applying leverage and changing the national conversation in our favor.  Whether or not the current bill passes, we as citizens need to use the above skills to ensure the next round of legislators are braver, shrewder, more effective and more loyal than our current batch.  This means discussing the health care reform effort as the monumental failure it is for failing to go far enough and in the right direction.

If we are going to win, we need to learn the lessons of negotiation and rhetoric well enough to become a political force to be reckoned with.

Strategy – Letting Health Reform Fail

Posted in Analysis, Observations, Strategy by Captain Optimistic on December 22, 2009

We have three options going forward.  Agitate for meaningful change in the health care reform bill, allow it to fail in Congress and pin that failure firmly on right wingers in both parties, or allow it to pass as is.  If we allow this bill to pass, it will fail to contain costs, fail to reform industry practices, and serve only as a precedent for corporations using government to force a noncompetitive market on the public.  Such a failure will appear to validate conservatives and be disastrous for midterm elections.

The third option isn’t viable for liberals, Democrats and supporters of meaningful healthcare reform.  The first two options are both the fruit of the same essential strategy:  Pushing as hard as we can against the misogynist and corporatist forces aligned against reform.  It is a true win-win strategy.  If we succeed we will have decimated Stupak-Pitts and Nelson – attempts to use the urgency of the health care debate to force the abortion issue and religious inspired law into an unrelated bill.  If we succeed we’ll have created real competition for the private insurance industry, offered reforms that curtail abuses and protect consumers, and stood up against corporate lobbyist controlled legislation*.

If on the other hand we fail, we walk into the midterm elections strong and fierce.  Our campaign language is written for us.  Vote for reformers, vote against the Congress critters beholden to Bibles and corporate donations.

If we take the advice of our adversaries and shut the fuck up we will lose.  We will lose health care reform, and we will lose power in both bodies of Congress come midterms.  If we want power we must win this battle, and the only way to do so is to dig in and fight.  Anything less than a ferocious commitment to an authentic reform effort will end in our loss.

*All things our President promised fervently to do during the campaign.

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Stupak’s God in Our Government

Posted in Analysis, Strategy by Captain Optimistic on November 16, 2009

The problem with unifying Church and State is it becomes the unification not of some abstract Church, but specifically the Church of the ruling class.  In this case Bart Stupak’s efforts to hijack health care reform to push an anti-women agenda is part of a larger effort to put God into Government.

The health care bill is a series of very small steps towards meaningful reform.  We should be able to take those steps without them falling on the neck of women’s rights.

Mr Stupak’s threat is a serious one and it deserves a vicious rhetorical response.  His efforts cannot be seen as anything less than anti-reform, and anyone who is against reform at this point isn’t a Democrat.  This goes deeper than party loyalty however.  This battle is a real struggle between those who are truly pro-life and those who are pro-insurance-company-profits.  Theocratic forces have seen an opening and are standing with the paid-for anti-reformers to try and maneuver for power.

Given the weight of this battle we ought let fly without reserve.  From a rhetorical perspective we should hold nothing back and purposefully include the Stupak crowd in with the anti-reformers.  The tendencies towards binding US law to a strict interpretation of conservative Christianity is fundamentally incompatible with the separation of Church and State, the 1st amendment, and inclusion within the Democratic party.  Any elected official taking such a position needs to feel the heat directly under their feet if we are to drive home our position:

Health Care reform is vital.

Theocratic laws are never acceptable.

We will never sacrifice women’s rights to advance the “greater” progressive agenda.  Women’s rights are an irremovable part of the progressive agenda.

We are nowhere near victory but the very act of lifting up our heads to speak as we lay in the mud has conservatives frothing at the mouth and banging their spears against their shields.  If we are to survive much less win, we absolutely must stand united, tall and firm and let loose one hell of a roar.