Dec 13, 2013
Progressives Are the Key to Reform
Posted on Aug 23, 2009
By T.L. Caswell
The president must redouble his effort to use the bully pulpit to communicate to the public that U.S. health care reform—sought at least since the presidency of Harry Truman—is long overdue. In large part Obama’s success in convincing the public will depend on his effectiveness in beating down the untruths being pushed by the far right. If he cannot quickly make his case to more Americans, true, deep reform of health care may be off the table for years. And, on the political side, if he loses on this, his presidency runs the risk of being permanently crippled.
It’s time for Obama to pull out all the stops. The president must re-energize the extraordinary grass-roots coalition that helped put him in the White House. But progressives won’t rally behind Obama until they know what they’re fighting for. The president must promise to veto any bill without a strong public option. The risk is worth the reward: Pressure on Congress from progressive Americans and moderates is the key to achieving a new system of health insurance. Liberals, showing the same vigor they displayed in helping elect the president, must turn up the heat on Congress.
It’s a shame that Congress must be blackjacked by constituents into doing the right thing, but that seems to be the reality. The House and Senate votes needed for passage of a strong plan won’t be lined up unless federal legislators are flooded with calls, letters and e-mails from back home demanding that the U.S. join the enlightened nations that provide comprehensive health care for all their citizens. This will happen only if America’s progressives lead the charge, just as they did during the last presidential campaign. They must not let any disagreements with Obama’s foreign policy stand in the way of rallying to this monumental domestic cause.
Reform hangs on two pins: whether Obama is able to reach progressives and moderates, and whether progressives kick-start a dynamic and expansive rally within their ranks.
T.L. Caswell was on the editing staff of the Los Angeles Times for many years and now edits for Truthdig.
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