Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Liberals Have Compromised Enough

Ezra Klein lays it out:

Was out of the office for a few hours at C-SPAN world headquarters, but early reports were accurate and Sen. Reid will include a national public option that states could choose to offer to their residents -- or not! -- in his bill. In the Senate, this is about to become the "liberal" half of the debate. But it's not very liberal at all. It is a compromise, and a conservative one at that.

For the real liberals, the public option was already a compromise from single-payer. For the slightly less radical folks, the public option that's barred from partnering with Medicare to maximize the government's buying power was a compromise down from a Medicare-like insurance plan. For the folks even less radical than that, the public option that states can "opt out" of is a compromise from the straight public option. Access to the public option will be a political question settled at the state level. It is not a settled matter of national policy.

In many ways, this is a fundamentally conservative approach to a liberal policy experiment. It's only offered to individuals eligible for the insurance exchanges, which is a small minority of the population. The majority of Americans who rely on employer-based insurance would not be allowed to choose the exchanges. From there, it is only one of many options on the exchange, and only in states that choose to have it. In other words, it has been designed to preserve the status quo and be decided on the state level. Philosophically, these are major compromises liberals have made on this plan. They should get credit for that.
They won't. They never do. That's not the game. The game is to exploit the "reasonableness" of too many liberals—their naive (yet oddly touching) belief that everybody is reasonable. They're willing to "meet half-way" with those who have openly declared themselves as unreasonable, unwilling to compromise, and completely hostile to everything that liberalism stands for.

So those enemies of Liberalism just "compromise" long enough to set up a new far-right position, then conveniently forget about the old "compromise" as anything but a starting point for a new "compromise" between their old position and their new one. Then, when they hit THAT point, they just go 'round again.

And if someone questions wingers on this little game? Well, then they rant, and rave, and scream about how the questioner is being "unfair", because they know that at least some will be uncomfortable with the "unreasonable" people in their midst. The liberals are divided against themselves. That is part of the game too.

All that's left is for people like Ezra to tally up the compromises, sorrowfully opine on what might have been, and then ignore it all over again when it happens the next time 'round.

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