It mystifies this writer that many Senate Democrats have failed to understand that killing the "public option" compromise position being pushed by the Obama will mean the end of their Senate careers. Politics has changed dramatically in the last few years and many Senate incumbents seem to have missed the size and intensity of the paradigm shift.
It is no accident that the Republican Party is in electoral meltdown. The Republican leadership is still stuck in the politics of the 1980's and 1990's. Unfortunately, the Democrats in power have not embraced the public sea change in attitudes completely. They do not understand that the Democratic wave does not threaten their hold on power. It does!
The Democratic shift is not based on partisan identity divorced from real changes in government policy. The Democratic election wins in 2006 and 2008 were strong rejections of both the Republican Right and the current unfair status quo in government policy.
If Democrats do nothing to reform the rigged economic system and fail to give American workers a fair shake, they are going to get replaced either in a primary or general election. If Democrats fail to protect civil liberties, they will be defeated. If Democrats start unnecessary wars, they will go down along with the already defeated Senate Republicans.
Of course, this is not good news for the Republican Right. The public is rejecting Republican Right politics and Republican-lite politics. Americans want real and meaningful reforms. Nothing less will do. Democrats who want to do the bidding of large corporations like the health insurance industry are going to get their backsides handed to them in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Senators from both major political parties better get with the program!
The public supports meaningful healthcare reform by huge margins. Depending on the wording and specific proposals, the public supports reform by percentile figures ranging from the mid-60's to high 80's. What the polls are missing is the intensity of this support.
Everyone is talking about healthcare. Even the majority of my highly partisan Republican friends are supporting universal government healthcare. Some are complaining that Obama's plan does not go far enough and want single-payer universal healthcare like HR 676. More than a few have left the Republican Party over the healthcare issue.
Democratic activists in every state are actively looking to recruit primary challengers to Senators and House members who oppose significant parts of the Obama agenda. On the healthcare issue, this sentiment is so intense that even if Obama abandoned the "public option" compromise, he would lose the support of these activists. Democratic incumbents can be defeated in Democratic primaries and will be if they abandon the "public option" compromise.
Healthcare as currently organized is killing Americans! It is killing American jobs and businesses. It is grossly inefficient and unfair. Americans have been waiting for over 60 years for fundamental reform and will not wait another year without holding officeholders responsible. We are going to cost Senators their jobs if they block healthcare reform. This is a promise!
Corporate money can buy TV ads and slick mailers. It worked in the pre-Internet past. It will not work today. Obama is in the White House as proof. If Obama can win the White House largely thanks to the Internet, think what we can do around an issue that starts with around 2/3rds public support and Obama on our side.
Written by Stephen Crockett (host of Democratic Talk Radio and Editor of Mid-Atlantic Labor.com).