Thursday, October 01, 2009

Now we're talking!

This has seemed an obvious perspective to me for a while now. From Brian Beutler, Progressives Prepare to Pressure Reid to Include Public Option in Senate Health Care Bill TPMDC 10/01/09:

Major progressive organizations see a golden opportunity to resurrect the public option, and are preparing a campaign, which will include television ads in Nevada, to pressure Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to get on board. ...

"If Harry Reid does not have the leadership skills to get 60 votes for cloture and give a Democratic president an up-or-down vote on health care, progressives will help defeat him in 2010, even if that means Republicans take that seat," said the head of one progressive organization, who's still working out the detail of the campaign. "There is no use for Reid's vote if 60 Democratic votes means nothing on cloture, and no use for Reid's leadership if his leadership is so blatantly ineffective."

That might not be such a troubling threat if Reid, who's up for re-election in 2010, wasn't suffering at the polls.
It's not clear why Beutler should have granted the person saying that anonymity. But the concept makes sense. We don't have a liberal/progressive party in the US. We have the Democratic Party, with a popular/progressive wing and a corporate-conservative wing. The Republicans are a reactionary party; conservative is not really a good description of their Party. The only way for liberals to increase their clout is to target Blue Dog Dems in primaries. And insist that the Party leaders respond to the needs of the Party base.

Reid's Majority Leader status is a conceptual holdover from the decades in which the Dems, for whatever reasons, felt they needed to have majority leaders who projected a "moderate" image. What that meant in practice was selected characters like Harry Reid from less secure Democratic seats who often felt they needed to vote with Republicans on important issues to show their centrism. Not a good criteria for a Party majority leader in Congress. Nancy Pelosi is working out much better.

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