Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Impatience with the pace of change is entirely understandable

I have been watching the health care debate for several months now, since spring to be exact, and maybe it was a little unrealistic to expect a bill before Congress took their summer recess, but back then I had great expectations. I still do, though I'm also disappointed by the pace of change.

The first disappointment was that the health care discussion started out on the wrong foot. The Progressives should have framed the debate in terms of universal health care and compromised at a minimum with a robust public option. But Democrats started off with the idea that they could get bipartisan support.

August should have made clear that right-wing opposition to the President was not going to negotiate with the new administration. A well-orchestrated hit job funded by conservative opposition and Fox News turned the debate into a circus. And it became obvious Blue Dogs were in the pockets of the health care industry.

If anything has become clear during the health care debate, it's the corrosive effect money has on our political system. Of course ordinary people become disillusioned when the change they voted for doesn't happen. The disillusionment grows the longer it takes popular legislation to pass, and it's not like there aren't priorities other than health care, such as ending two wars and building a new economy based on green technologies.

Obama is not entirely to blame, of course, though I think the effort to make him appear weak will continue to dog him. It's not like he takes the vacation time of the previous President. He has been doing his job setting guidelines and deadlines, giving speeches, addressing critics, and pushing Congress to send him legislation he can sign. So why can't he move forward more quickly with his agenda?

I predicted the right-wing noise machine would try to derail Obama's agenda, but I didn't expect opposition to Obama from congressional Democrats who should have learned from the Clinton years that failure to produce results has a history of upsetting their majority in mid-term elections when people stay home or vote for right wing crazies out of sheer disappointment and anger. If they are really interested in self-preservation they should do what's right and popular.

My hope is that Democrats deliver on their campaign promises and stop trying to get one or two votes from the Party of No. My hope is for real change and for that to be happening soon.

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