Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Editorial: Can’t We Just Get the Job Done?

Summary: Eric and Dave explain their frustrations with the politics of pessimism.

It’s not difficult to be pessimistic about the outlook of the world sometimes. In recent years, it hasn’t been difficult to be pessimistic about the future of the United States.

For liberals, many of us made the claim that we would move to Canada following the re-election of George W. Bush. In our knee-jerk reaction to the unconscionable decision of the American public, we were certain America was on its downfall. But when we had the chance to think clearly, we remembered it was our country, and we needed to fight for it.

Two years later, we started to win this fight by taking back both chambers of Congress for the Democrats.

Have we reached some sort of Utopia? Of course not. We never will.

Some liberals are now feeling that pessimism in the midst of the healthcare debate. We’re not getting the perfect bill we were hoping for. And some are afraid that if we pass an even mildly-controversial bill, seats will be lost in November.

But as Mark Sump from Activate reminded us on Monday, sometimes we just need to get the job done.

From his blog post:

My son is 16, six foot four and plays varsity basketball at his high school. I attend all of his games. A couple weeks ago his team was playing one of the top teams in the conference. It was close. The other team stole the ball, drove the floor and went in for the lay up. There was one player between him and the basket. They both went up. Our player was trying not to foul, but there was no chance he wouldn’t. He tried to block the ball, but it was out of reach. The ball went in and the foul was called. I thought to myself, if you’re going to foul…foul. Don’t let the shot go in.

Sixteen years ago we tried to pass health care reform. We failed. That year the Republicans took the House. First time in decades. They patted themselves on the back and told the country it was because they succeeded in pushing back against change, against finally bringing true reform to our health care system.

In 1992, Bill Clinton won an electoral landslide. The campaign was built on hope and change. The cornerstone issue was health care reform. He had a mandate. He really did. Then he ran into a Democratic Congress who played not to lose. The more change that was proposed, the dimmer the outlook was for Democrats in Congress. They hesitated. They blinked. They were afraid to lose. Guess what? They lost anyway…

… So, here we are sixteen years later. We’re playing defense. The Republicans are going up for the dunk. Democrats have a decision to make. Do we stop them from scoring and take the penalty, or do we try not to foul.

We can learn from the past. We can know that sixteen years ago as many people were discouraged by our lack of ability to bring real change as were afraid of what that change might bring. Democrats can stand up today, knowing they will lose in November but knowing they did the right thing. Sixteen years ago we blinked and we know the results. History shows we’re going to lose seats in Congress if we do nothing.

So, do the right thing. Pass health care reform. Pass a public option. Pass a Medicare buy-in. Do it by any means possible. Pass a real reform by reconciliation.

If you’re going to foul…foul.

This is how it seems to be with a lot of things these days - even when we put partisan politics aside. On TV, pundits and politicians are constantly telling us that we’ll be losing out to the Chinese because of our deficits, and that it’s placing an unfair burden on the next generation.

Guess what? We are that generation! We’re the next slot of Americans who will have to clean up this mess (Eric is 32, Dave is 22). So here’s our message: either grab a mop, or get out of the way.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re old or young, conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat. Times are tough, but complaining about it isn’t going to get us anywhere. We need to reform healthcare (everybody knows it), we need to curb climate-change, and - yes - we need to reach a balanced budget sooner rather than later.

So let’s do it. Let’s grab a mop and get the job done. And let’s make sure that we force out those who are standing in the way of this job - those practicing the politics of pessimism. Barack Obama (as he’s said himself) cannot the sole maker of change - we all have to be change makers.

What makes our country great is the resilience of the American people. We were resilient enough after the 2004 elections to re-group and get the job done for the Democrats.

Now we need to be resilient in the face of great challenges and get the job done for America.

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