In Yes, There Are Members Of Congress As Frustrated As Progressive Activists, Chris Bowers gives me some perspective by posting a letter from an anonymous congressperson frustrated with how progressive reform has been stymied:
Imagine if right now we were looking back on a year in which we passed transformational legislation on energy independence and universal health care coverage…
On the budget side, we passed the largest one-time federal investment in science, technology, health technology, green energy, and public education and may well have prevented a depression in the process…
And did I mention there would be a public option, pre- and post-natal care would be mandatory, and we would be transitioning to a carbon-constrained economy?
The People’s House did all of this in a single year.
Even with weak to non-existent leadership from the White House, we produced legislation that rivals the great progressive eras we celebrate. As you know, I thought the final financial reg bill ended up being a joke, and I was shocked to see fewer than 100 Dems vote to prevent exemptions on the derivatives that helped get us into this mess.
But still, but for the Senate, the agenda above would be law. All of it.
The past two months have been as dark for me on the movement faith front as I have ever had, but I am trying to figure out what to learn from this. It would be easy to conclude that the Senate is the problem, but it seems safe to say that if the White House had demonstrated the desire and strategery, they could have made it happen.
The whole thing is worth a read for a good overview of the mountain of accomplishments the House has racked up this year, only a fraction of which have made it to law intact. To be fair, ACES was not ideal, and the House’s health care bill had what is to me, a kill-worthy flaw (Stupak). But overall it bears repeating that if the Senate were substantially reformed (mostly by ending the filibuster) and President Obama was more willing to fight for us non-corporatist progressives, we could make this happen. Instead, I see this.
But the point is, we do have a lot in place that could do a lot of good, given better leadership and democratization of the Democratic party. It’s imperative that we keep encouraging good congresspeople and doing everything we can to force the Senate and White House to follow their lead better. Lotta work to do…