I know, shocking right?
I’m working on another post right now, but I just saw one story today on The Huffington Post that kind of perfectly encapsulates where I’m at right now, and I thought I’d briefly take the opportunity to highlight it and strongly agree, with a minor qualification, below the jump.
“The answer to that is: They’re [Republicans] assholes. That’s a technical political science term. And Barack Obama’s not an asshole. I will say this, I can be an asshole. And some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama are gonna have to start getting a little bit uppity.”
The above quote, delivered by Van Jones on February 11th, before he began working at the White House, serves as a pretty good organizing principle from here on out.
In the interest of getting to the meat of this argument, I encourage you to check out my caveats at the end of the piece, marked by *s, where I concede that I am guessing there was a very particular and racialized reason for this particular Sister Souljah moment. Never the less, I think we’re going to have to do better if our goal is truly substantive change.
Sorry to those readers who have actually been tuning in regularly, I swear I’ll talk about something other than the public option soon. But I think that the urgency and opportunities present in the fight over the public option warrant close coverage and strong action. I just wanted to highlight two posts over at Open Left (which I will try and use less of in the future, I know I’ve been referencing them kind of a lot lately) for both commentary and a call to action.
The first is from David Sirota, author of The Uprising, which I cannot recommend enough. He writes that the consequences of fighting for a public option go beyond the most important result (cost-containment and universal coverage) by changing the political paradigm between the two parties. You only have to look at the many pieces of key legislation this year that began as progressive initiatives and were watered down because Republicans and Blue Dogs put up a staunch defense of their values (or corporate interests, whatever). Progressives failed to take a similarly strong stand and so lost numerous battles they might have won. With the rallying around the public option, we may be beginning to see what could actually be a mobilized progressive coalition in the House, something that is hugely necessary to keep future legislation from shifting irrevocably rightward.
In order to give the public option a fighting chance and help facilitate the development of this progressive bloc, I again turn to Chris Bowers, who has a brief assessment of the state of the public option in the Senate. He also provides links to a site that can give you easy directions to write to on-the-fence senators.
Like I said, sorry for harping on so much about the public option. But I think Sirota’s point is well worth taking. Those of us who identify strongly as progressives have been without consistent leadership and legislative support for a while, despite the election of Obama. It is up to us to help build the progressive wing into a fighting force that can give Obama the room to pass legislation I think he’d probably most prefer.