Monday, August 17, 2009

The Democrats Are Terrible at Politics

Sorry, Nate, but that's the only real lesson of the "Death of the Public Option". Republicans are good at politics, Democrats are terrible at politics. It doesn't really matter how charismatic the Dems are, they're still terrible at politics.

Fucking step aside and let the Greens have a go.

Edit: Upon more thoroughly reading that piece, Nate comes across as a better Sabremetrician than political analyst. The death of the public option will majorly anger progressives, who will see it (quite rightly) as the death of Obama as any sort of transformative figure and as a gigantic handout to the insurance industry.

The bill will not accomplish what it sets out to do. The insurance industry will almost certainly recalibrate its pricing and business models to take into account the captive nature of the American public, and will probably coalesce into a rather tidy cartel—the usual way to get around government-imposed "competition" when a government-granted monopoly is in the offing. Any savings from bargaining power with suppliers will go entirely to shareholders and executive compensation. So will the increased revenues from Americans who have, quite literally, no choice.

Think about it. An America where health care is about as competitive as Broadband Service Providers. Does anybody think the Dems will be lionized for that? Nate claims that in the near-term it will be "almost certain." I don't buy it. That near-term will be a few months at best, before the Dems start getting savaged for something else.

And that's the big issue that Nate keeps avoiding: the Republicans are not going to stop here. Climbing down on the public option and turning Health Care reform into an industry handout is going to light a fire under the Republicans. They're going to smell blood, are going to know that the bill is terrible—since they damned well ensured it—and are going to do whatever they can to water down or destroy any other progressive legislation from Obama.

High-speed rail? Forget it.

Environmental reform? Not a chance.

Banking regulation? Was unlikely to begin with, but will be impossible.

And then, after the Dems have caved over, and over, and over again: what will happen? The same thing that always happens. The Republicans will turn around, call them "weak" on some irrelevant foreign policy issue. the public will understand what they're really saying, and the spinelessness of the Dems will get them kicked right out of power.

Then the Republicans will gain the throne again. The new, crazy Republicans. They'll crow about mandates, they'll gut any protections that might be left for consumers, they'll leave in the handouts to the new insurance oligopoly, they'll probably go invade Burma, and the whole merry-go-round will start over again.

Except, because progressives will be thoroughly disgusted with politics (another factor Nate does not consider), there won't be another Obama. Nobody will buy it. The only people energized by American governance will be Glenn Beck's psychotic minions. Progressives and liberals will do what they always do: retreat to civil society organizations and try to mitigate the damage. It won't work. The damage is already severe.

Yes, Nate, progressives in the Democratic party need to draw a line in the sand. Your perfunctory nod towards the Overton Window would have showed why, had you let it. Saying "no, we will NOT move" is exactly how you keep it from shifting to your opponent's side when they bust out the crazy. You threaten primary challenges even in districts where the Rep or Senator is in line with the district as a whole, you threaten to ensure that the other guy wins, and show that you're willing to pull down the whole damned temple around your ears.

To hell with the stats, to hell with incrementalism, and to hell with salvaging some miserable little cartel-building bill to try to make 2010 less of a bloodbath. LET it be a bloodbath.

They deserve nothing less.

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