My brother just sent me a post from Esquire in which Dennis Kucinich talks about what caused him to vote against his principles and support the Democratic Party in the health care bill. It is a very thoughtful piece about the role of a principled legislator at a â€œpivotal moment in historyâ€ where the forces of politics and principle collide.
He notes there were originally 77 Congresspersons who said they would oppose any legislation that did not have a public option, and only two (Kucinich and Eric Massa, who is no longer in Congress) voted against it. He worries that now he is being cast in a â€œRalph Nadarâ€ role and could have been blamed forever for giving the victory to the GOOP. He concludes that while the health care bill is not much, itâ€™s a start, and he will have a lot of work to do to make it better. More importantly, he believes a loss would weaken the President and empower the GOOP, leading to gridlock and stagnation. Passing the bill will pivot history â€œtoward a very exciting time where the Obama presidency gets a chance to hit the reset button.â€
Kucinichâ€™s tells us how a man might change his mind and decide to surf along on the tide of history in order to fight another day. It is not a surprise, it is the argument I expected he would make. Itâ€™s hard thing to go against the Party and vote with the forces of evil, even if you are right.
I understand why Dennis voted the way he did, but I am still not sure it was right. If he had voted against the bill, The GOOP might have won in 2010 and 2012, but the health care system would collapse under the weight of its own corruption. The GOOP would be powerless to fix it… would probably not do anything to fix it because GOOPers don’t believe in fixing anything…and another Democrat would win and be in a position to fix it for good… or chaos would reign and the USA would continue on its road to being a third rate power. Either way would be more interesting, and prove once and for all the point that the GOOP does not know what the fuck it is doing.
The legislation the President just signed into law is a net gain â€¦ a clear victoryâ€¦ for the insurance industry and drug industries, which avoided any meaningful change in the rules. There is no public option, no Medicare for all, no importing less expensive drugs from Canada, no bulk price negotiations, and no insurers’ anti-trust exemption. Note that insurance company stock is up over 70 percent. Thatâ€™s probably because they are getting 32 million new, paid customers. The citizens get some minimal protection from preexisting condition discrimination, but there is no meaningful limit on what they can be charged for the privilege. Poor people get subsidized health care, which is the only meaningful change.
In short Obama is a winner, but the corporations prove once again that they own Washington and the Congress and the Presidency. What price victory, eh?