Four Lessons From The Health Care Fight: A Game Plan For Reform In 2010
It has become clear that the conservatives in America are determined to do everything in their power to derail the movement for change and reform for their corporate masters. Not since the time of Andrew Jackson following his defeat in the 1824 election has this country seen such a partisan attempt to prevent anything from happening in Congress. There are some lessons in the struggle to pass strong health care reform, and these need to be learned very well by progressives and Democrats if our country is ever going to improve.
Lesson 1: Expect every legislative maneuver possible to delay and obstruct bills. The Republicans are never going to vote for a single bill. Not once. They will remain united as the party of ‘no’, and unanimously reject anything proposed, even things like the Franken anti-rape amendment. They will continue their record number of filibusters. There was even a leaked instruction manual on procedural methods to stop the legislative process.
Lesson 2: Expect corporations to fight against any meaningful reform. They will spend hundreds of millions against each bill. In an effort to protect a profit scheme that has only led to the rich getting richer, they are going to run misleading ads. They are going to blitzkrieg congress with slick lobbyists (6 lobbyists for each member of congress during the health care debate). They are going to target congressman in key committees with lavish campaign contributions in order to corrupt their votes.
Maddow exposes corporate astroturfing
Lesson 3: Expect an onslaught of disinformation from the conservative and corporate media. Fox ‘News’ and Rush Limbaugh in particular are the main mouthpieces of the Republican Party, although there are dozens of others. Their purpose is twofold: to confuse people about the reality of the situation and to scare their ignorant viewers into taking action. Their propaganda is quite effective, and no matter how outlandish the accusation they make about reforms, they will convince millions to believe it.
Lesson 4: Expect angry mobs of Tea Bag Partiers to continue their protests. These people are not going away, in fact every indication points to an intensification. As long as the GOP continues spreading lies, corporations keep fueling astroturfing groups like Freedomworks, and the conservative media stays on the path of fear mongering propaganda, angry and misinformed Republicans will hit the streets. Despite libertarian roots, these events are now Republican hate fests. They are going to protest in cities across the country at least once a season. The are going to make outrageous signs. They are going to disrupt meetings. They are going to be in Washington DC during the final stages of every major bill being debated. Remember, conservatives hate Obama more than they love America.
Tea Baggers expressing their ‘tolerance’ of a different viewpoint
Due to the unprecedented obstructionism in Congress, work around the Republicans. Don’t consult with them on anything and cut them out of the process completely. Make sure that every Senator understands that they must vote to end all filibusters regardless of their views on the final bill. Craft each piece of important legislation to use reconciliation from the start in anticipation of conservative Democrats being unwilling or unable to support the final bill. As we have seen, endless compromises with a party that will ultimately vote against any bill anyways is appeasement, it is futile. Now that the Republicans have 41 unanimous NO! votes in the US Senate, they can literally stop any piece of legislation they want, making party loyalty even more important.
To combat the deceitful ads of corporations, people need to expect that they will have to continue to donate to progressive organizations. We will never outspend them, but we have to try to play in the same league and this requires dollars. The list of who to contribute to is very long, but some good ones to consider are Moveon.org, Bold Progressives, Act Blue, the DCCC, and FDL, on top of organizations that fight for change for specific issues (American Rights At Work, the Marijuana Policy Project, etc.). Donate early, donate often. Give what you can to fight back against the war chest of those who want another Bush regime.
Fight ignorance with facts. Educate yourself about the issues so that you can effectively refute their lies. Websites like Media Matters, Think Progress, Raw Story, Talking Points Memo, and The Nation are excellent resources, as are people like Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz on MSNBC. Politely request that Fox ‘News’ be turned off where ever you go. Remember, don’t waste your time trying to convince wingnuts, they are a lost cause. Work around them and focus on the centrists and open minded. Confronting lies, irrational fears, and ignorance is the most difficult task we have in 2010.
Retake the streets. The only thing required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. We have to remember why we voted in 2008, because the country was heading down the toilet, and the Tea Baggers want to bring us right back to the Bush years. Organize. Get out of your house and attend rallies. Not just counter-protests, but our own rallies for change and reform. We are not reactionary, we are the moving force which will change America for the better.