Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Open Letter to the President

Dear Mr. President,

I realize that you want to find a solution to the Healthcare issue that includes input from all parties. You want to find a consensus. I respect that. I respect your desire to create true, bipartisan legislation. It's a noble idea and speaks well of your character. Particularly the tenacity you've shown in sticking to it. But there are times when we have to accept that bipartisanship will not work. We have spent months now, trying to engage in a dialog. To find middle ground. And it's been worthless. A dialog only works when both sides are willing to sit down and work for a solution. 

Let's be honest, the Republicans never even walked in the room. Instead of approaching the discussion with an open mind, they have come with a political agenda. That agenda is, first and foremost, to stop you from passing anything of substance. Period. Exclamation point. Think about it. They gain absolutely nothing from this Administration succeeding. Even to the smallest degree. Yet they have everything to gain from even the tiniest failure. Second, as the party that has always championed the corporate right to do virtually anything that isn't actually illegal, they don't want to see the, extremely powerful, insurance companies threatened in any way. As soon as you set healthcare reform up as a major Administration agenda item, you painted a target on it. It doesn't matter what the Bill, if one is ever actually produced, says. A large percentage of Republicans will oppose it. Not because of what some obscure provision states, but because 'President Obama' supports it. The massive losses the Republican's sustained in the last election has backed them into a corner. And they are fighting, not for or against a particular bill, but simply for survival. No Republican congressperson will ever be re-elected by touting a vote in support of a 'Democratic' Healthcare plan. This is an ugly truth, but it is a truth nonetheless. And one you must face.

Then we have the Democrats. Your own party. And I'm sure you entered office with every expectation of having their support. This is understandable. You won solidly. This would indicate that you won, not just the Democratic affiliates, but also a significant percentage of moderates and even some of the more liberal Republicans. Basically, you came into office with the full support of both the Left and the Center. So you certainly should have expected predominantly positive support from the majority of these groups. But you don't have it, do you? That's because the Democrats have always been a fractious lot. They stand together when they must, to survive. But when the crisis is over, they fly off in every direction like a flock of pigeons. Only to then cluster nervously in tiny, discordant factions. With Democrats in 'control' of Congress, it's sad that it's the Republicans who are in control of the Healthcare debate. And have been from the start. Your party has, in it's euphoria over their victory last November, sabotaged any benefit that might have been gained from it. They are like an army that solidly defeats an opponent, then gets so drunk in celebration that they allow the opposition to capture them all the next morning. The Democrats won a battle during the last election, but if they don't stop celebrating soon, they'll ensure their loss in the next one.

This is why you find yourself where you are today. You started, during the campaign, with some good ideas for healthcare reform. Ideas that obviously connected with the masses, based on your solid win in the election. But it's all coming apart, slowly, but surely, isn't it? Day by day you are having to drop item after item. Not in a compromise to find a middle ground. Not due to logical discussions of what can really work or make a difference. No. You are losing them, one by one, as the plan is pecked to death by sound bites, lunatics and lies. And I can feel your frustration, even some 500 miles from DC. 

But you, and those Democrats that support you, have to take a significant share of the blame. You must take a deep breath, look in the mirror and see your enemy. With all due respect, Mr. President, you've dropped the ball on this for one simple reason. Overestimation. You overestimated the American public's ability to listen to intellect over emotion. You overestimated their ability to withstand smoke & mirror parlor tricks and to shrug off fun house level scare tactics. You overestimated the ability of your own party to stand together and the willingness of the Republicans to set aside political considerations and deal in good faith.  It is past time that you looked yourself in the eye, Mr. President, and accepted that you made a mistake. 

Once you come to terms with this, it's time to do what you should have done from the beginning. Step up to the microphone and explain your proposal. Not in the context of a speech to a joint session of Congress. That is virtually pointless, sad as it is to admit. As proven by your Republican heckler, the Republicans in Congress are not your allies. They spent the whole speech 'Tweeting' their disagreement to anyone who would listen. And the Democrats are so lost to their individual schemes and alliances as to be useless in building anything approaching a solid front.  What you have to do and what you should have done from the beginning is to take control of the debate! I respect your desire for consensus. But it's not Congress that you need to convince. They aren't listening anymore anyway. You have to convince America! You have to fight the ignorance and lies with Fact. Too long you have allowed your opponents to control the debate, by carefully crafted sound bites and sweet smelling bullshit. Speeches, inspirational  or not, that tout the vague outlines of your plan will never be able to compete with shouted phrases like, 'Death Panel" and "The government between you and your doctor." Yes, they are gross distortions at best, but if they are broadcast with enough volume and vehemence they will drown out all the logic and reason in the world. 

1 comment:

  1. You know, I completely agree with you. But here is the reason that it is a good thing that I am not in office...Bush overpowered the opposition and we went to war. A war that SO many didn't want. Yes, I want health care options for everyone. But I hated having Bush shove a war down my throat. Is it okay now that 'my guy' is in office that I now think being the 'decider' is acceptable? I am not sure about that.
    It saddens me to see how right you are about the republicans not having anything to gain from a dem win. Really sad.
    I still have the hope...however in vain it maybe, that people will care about other people and we will reach an evolutionary state where we will work together because we know that if anyone loses then we all lose.


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