Taking on MoveOn

I am a certified MoveOn supporter. Though I had to opt out of the e-feeds because my Inbox overfloweth, I have sent money, forwarded news, heeded their messages.

But enough is enough. They are pushing for measures we should have, but won’t get today. I am coming down on the side of those who say just get us a bill. In the words of Washington Post editorial writer E. J. Dionne — in a column today aptly titled Don’t scream: organize:

Instead of trying to derail the process – exactly what conservative opponents want to do – those on the left dissatisfied with the Senate bill should focus their efforts over the next few weeks on getting as many fixes into it as they can.

What we have in the Senate bill is a mishmash of stuff we didn’t want, along with the absence of stuff we did. Ridiculous obstacles to a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion — write two checks every month just so Ben Nelson can get benefits in perpetuity for Nebraska and maybe we’ll satisfy the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the bargain? — piled on top of other obstacles for the poor and benefits for the rich (read: Big Pharma.) But come on, folks, it’s a bill. If we get a bill, it can be improved. If we fail, it’ll be another generation of a punitive, non-working “system” of health care before we get this far again. By then there will be other Joe Liebermans eager to grab the spotlight and claim the power to derail every other beneficial detail. I’ll be dead, but I plan to haunt you.

Dionne points out that the House bill is superior, the two bills will now have to be reconciled, and there will be future opportunities to build on this beginning.

Enactment of a single bill will not mark the end of the struggle. It will open a series of new opportunities. It’s a lot easier to improve a system premised on the idea that everyone should have health coverage than to create such a system in the first place. Better to take a victory and build on it than to label victory as defeat.

Successful political movements prosper on the confidence that they can sustain themselves over time so they can finish tomorrow what they start today. At this moment, rage is understandable, but hope is what’s necessary.

Progressives – don’t scream: organize.

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