Monday, September 24, 2007

Progressive Update--09/24/2007

Do-Nothing Democratic Congress—I’ve been hearing a bunch about how the Democrats have not delivered on their promises made before the November 2006 election, that this is a Congress that can’t accomplish anything. Hogwash.

Let’s remember one very important fact, Democrats follow the Constitution. This is in sharp contrast to the current Administration. The Constitution requires that it takes six years for every Senator to be up for re-election. We only had the opportunity to consider one-third of Senators in 2006. The next wave comes up in 14 months.

In the meantime, there are still a bunch of obstructionist Senators, those who believe that President Bush should continue to wage an Occupation of Iraq, or more accurately to defer to the military to make decisions of whether to continue the Occupation of Iraq, Senators who believe that our Reservist soldiers deserve to be in a foreign nation more than to be with their families (or even state-side), Senators who believe in preventing a vote on other critical legislation. These Senators are not wrong, they merely out of touch and no longer reflect the country’s majority. Unfortunately for 160,000 soldiers and unfortunately for every Iraqi citizen, it will take much more time for the country to vote them out of office. That is how our system works. Think of them as lame duck Senators, like our lame duck President. Annoying sons of guns, aren’t they?

Until we clear enough of them out, Congress will move slowly. This is not Pelosi’s fault or Reid’s. It is George Washington’s fault and James Madison’s fault, and the fault of the other framers of the Constitution. Or perhaps, it is bitter medicine that is good for us. I am hopeful that it will serve as a lesson to our country, less we permit our country to be bamboozled again by faux-patriots, and faux-values politicians.

Socialism, Communism—In two very diverse environments this summer, I heard a policy being described as representing or leading to socialism. A nutcase testifying before the Delaware Senate committee claimed that passing legislation that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation is a step towards socialism and communism. A pundit or editorialist claimed that Hillary Clinton’s healthcare program was a step towards socialism.

I suspect that some right-wing think-tank discovered the Socialism is a hot button term for swing-voters, and that they plan to paint all progressive policy as pushing the country towards Socialism (and Communism, it appears that the right-wingers use both terms interchangeably). This appears to be the theme of the scare-tactics that they rely on, now that they can no longer use terrorism and Iraq (since the American people have finally wised up to that strategy).

So what can we do? Again, let’s go back to basics. The preamble of the US Constitution points out that its mission (the constitution) is to, among other goals, to promote the general welfare. I guess that Washington and Madison were Communists well before Karl Marx was born.

Progressives need to hit this head-on. When someone raises that a Democratic presidential candidate’s health care plan (since there are no health care plans by Republican presidential candidates) will lead us to Socialism, don’t be quiet. Ask whether Social Security has helped their parents and grandparents. I know that it did for me, and I appreciate the country standing up for our older citizens. My father died when I was an infant, and I received Social Security benefits when I was a child. This helped to enable me to become a full partner in our society. A social program is not Socialism, rather it is a program designed to benefit society, all of society.

Progressives advocate for social programs such as health care for seniors, for children, and for all Americans, so that fewer Americans fall through the cracks of financial ruin due to the heavy burden of medical care on the uninsured in this country. Progressives believe that our country is strongest when we all stand together, and help each other when one of us stumbles. Progressives further believe that universal healthcare permits our country to better compete in the 21st century, when every major country other than ours provides universal healthcare, and our out-dated, regressive, conservative patchwork healthcare system puts American jobs, productivity, and growth in jeopardy.

The Democratic presidential candidates have a variety of plans, some stronger than others. Let’s not quibble over the details, if this quibbling reduces the likelihood of a Democrat with health care reform making it to the White House next year. Let’s celebrate that every leading Democratic presidential candidate recognizes that Americans demand a change of our current health care system. And let’s celebrate our Democracy (not Socialist system) that permits us to vote to support programs that benefit society, that Promote the General Welfare.

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