Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It Would Appear Kucinich is On-Side

So says the Washington Post.

His prerogative, but once again this raises the question of liberal independence, and progressive relevance. Once again, a progressive is being smashed into supporting the powers-that-be where his "centrist" counterparts, flush with health corp cash, would be coddled and catered to at every opportunity.

And, once again, progressives have to ask what, exactly, they fought for, when their supposed spokesmen and -women appear to have no belief they're not willing to jettison to get access to the halls of power. It's illusory access, of course. The progressive groups have still proven themselves completely unable to affect policy because of the lack of a credible threat. But at least they get to feast at the Village.

Edit: By the by, this is partially the result of the Republicans' obstructionism, but not in the way you think. As long as the Republicans are publicly obstructionist, they can be sure that no small number of Democratic-leaners will support the legislation, because Republicans oppose it. Opposition from the left becomes difficult as hell, because you get lumped in with the Republicans.

(As happened with Kucinich.)

This wouldn't be a problem for progressives if the Republicans had no say in legislation whatsoever. They do. They have a big impact in committees, they have a lot of friends in the media, and the President has continued to reach for "bipartisan" solutions. One of the main reasons the Senate HCR bill is so weak is precisely because the Republicans were playing this push-pull game. So, as should have been apparent a long time ago, the Republicans get to have it both ways: they get legislation that caters to their whims, and they either get divided progressives or progressives that are willing to do their work for them because said progressives think they're stymieing them.

(And then they win more seats back, because any bill a Republican has input into is almost guaranteed to be terrible, so the public punishes the Dems for passing it.)

Nothing new there, of course. And it is possible that HCR might be improved. But it won't be improved by Republicans, that's for damned sure, and I see no opportunity for the Dems to improve it outside of the very near-term. Not with 2010 looking the way it does.

Re-Edit: And it looks like he didn't get anything for his vote, either.

Ben Nelson got a big ol' kickback. Stupak is going to get women sold out for his cause. (Oh, he is. Let's just admit it.) Lieberman got the Medicare extension killed.

Do you know why that is, fellow progressives? Because if you can make a credible thread, they will concede to you what you want. Basic bargaining and negotiations. If Kucinich had held out and been the last House vote, he'd have gotten something, too.

As it is, he got nothing. His constituents got nothing. His supporters got nothing. Hell, he probably isn't even going to get an apology from Kos.

That's why the Obama administration won't listen to you. They won't, unless they need to. Your choice.

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