Change Means Change

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Memo to David Axelrod: ARE YOU REALLY THAT DUMB?

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who contributed to The Great Askening. As of this writing, after PayPal's cut, y'all have covered nearly a third of the expense that prompted it in the first place. Which is huge, and incredibly helpful, and I thank you.

Now, perhaps I should have foreseen a big-ass Venn diagram overlap between "people willing to send me money" and "people who have no suggestions for the site", but it looks like there won't be any major additions. Offer's still open, though - drop me an e-mail if you donated and think of something later.

Discharging the one request now - Andy at getoutfromunderit.blogspot.com would like you to give his writing a try. It's pretty different from what I do, but I'm guessing you folks like more things than dick jokes about creationists.

OK, back to the business of calling out stupidity on a global scale. Last week, as Democrats debated the best way to capitulate to Republican demands on tax cuts for the rich, Obama adviser David Axelrod gave an interview with the Huffington Post in which he uttered a quote that is absolutely representative of every real problem I have with the Obama administration. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

""We have to deal with the world as we find it. The world of what it takes to get this done."

And that, as Yoda would have said to Axelrod eventually, after cracking up several times over the man's doubly-phallic name, is why you fail.

You know how Republicans got to where they are today? By deliberately NOT dealing with the world as they found it. Instead, they pushed toward creating the world they wanted. Maybe they didn't get things done, but the work they did changed the environment in such a way that, down the road, what they wanted would be easier. Obama has never, ever done this.

I get it. Non-ideological. Practical. Roll up the sleeves and accomplish things. If you can't score a touchdown, go for the field goal. But sometimes you need seven points to win, not three, and all the field goal does is make your team feel slightly better about how bad they got beaten.

Dubya lost his fight to privatize Social Security. And it's a damn good thing he did, because all of our newly private personal accounts would have all been in the stock market when the economic crisis hit. But it was, even at the time, a fairly close thing, and the relentless drumbeat of talking points from eight years ago has now coalesced into unchallenged conventional wisdom. Social Security is going broke. It's a Ponzi scheme. It's in crisis. Something drastic has to be done to fix it. Sacrifices are going to have to be made. None of these things are particularly true, and every single one of them forms the basis for the Social Security debate today.

That's the kind of thing we should have seen during the health care debate. Maybe you're willing to settle for Romneycare, and that's fine. But for fuck's sake, don't argue in favor of Romneycare and then expect us to throw you a party when you get it. Argue in favor of a public option. Argue in favor of Medicare-for-all. Argue in favor of single fucking payer, because we all know at the end of the day that's where we need to end up. So lay the groundwork.

When you don't do that, what happens is that the shitty compromise that has health insurance companies on the way to record profits gets defined as the outermost, leftest edge of the debate. It gets defined as "Obamacare", as a government-run takeover of the health care system, even though the government didn't take over anything. If Obamacare instead was some nebulous proposal that included a robust public option, then you could re-brand what actually passed as a compromise position, and a step on the way to greater health care reform.

But no, you had to deal with the world as you found it. You had to appease Max Baucus and Ben Nelson and Bart Stupak and try to win over Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, and instead of opening people's minds to the concepts that might make them more amenable to decent reform a few years from now, you've made it harder for yourself to make any progress, harder for you to get any credit for the progress you have made, and harder to hang onto that progress in the future.

We don't need someone to deal with the world as it is. We need people to change the fucking world.