One reason why the Progressive Block was largely ineffective

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 17:52


Last night I produced a list of changes in health reform legislation that progressives have, so far, been able to make to the most right-wing health reform policies that passed through either a Congressional committee or a full branch of Congress.  It is a pretty decent list, but the overall analysis still makes it clear that the more conservative Democratic proposals largely won the day.

Why do conservative Democrats hold more sway over the party's policy than progressives?  That is certainly a question that not only needs a lot of justification (try this post by Matthew Yglesias for starters), but which also has a wide range of possible, and largely unprovable, answers.

Still, I think it is fairly safe to venture that one reason for the relatively greater success of conservative Democrats in shaping Democratic legislative policy is that, generally speaking, a Democratic President has a lot more potential leverage over progressive members of Congress from blue states / districts than over conservative Democrats from red states / districts.

Consider the case of the Progressive Block, a strategy I wrote a lot about over the summer.  The goal of this strategy was to get the White House and the Congressional leadership to pressure right-wing Democrats into supporting a couple of key progressive demands.  The plan was to threaten to join with Republicans and block "must-pass" legislation, such as health reform, unless one or two specific progressive demands, such as the public option, were met.

However, there was a serious flaw in this strategy: it was never the path of least resistance for the White House to apply more pressure to right-wing Democrats than left-wing Democrats.  Consider the choices facing the White House when threatened by both Progressives and Blue Dogs to comply with their various demands on health reform:

  1. First, the White House could pressure Progressives to support health reform even if it lacks key progressive demands. These members of Congress generally come from districts where both President Obama and health reform are popular.

  2. Second, the White House could pressure right-wing Democrats, who generally come from districts where neither President Obama nor health reform are popular, to support health reform even it lacks key conservative demands.
If you are just looking to pass a health reform bill at all costs, as it seems like the White House has been trying to do all along, by far the easier move here is to apply more pressure against Representatives from districts where both the White House and health reform are popular.  And by "pressure," I mean things like OFA, primary challenges, popular opinion, and more.  Compared to Blue Dogs, it is easier for a Democratic White House to a Progressive member's constituents against him or her.

The only way to have reversed this situation would have been if health reform was more popular within Blue Dog districts / donor groups than among Progressive districts / donors groups.  While some left-wing opposition to the bill materialized, those seeking to defeat the bill from the left never rose above 12-13% of the population (this is a smaller group than the roughly 35% of Americans who think the bill does not go far enough--most of whom don't actually want to see the bill defeated).  Thus, it is likely that those seeking to kill the bill from the left were a minority of Democratic  primary voters in every Congressional district in the country.

It is virtually impossible for a member of Congress to have leverage over the White House when the White House is on the side of the majority voters in that member's district, but that member of Congress is not.  To truly have had leverage over the White House, and have received much bigger concessions, any member of Congress blocking the bill for left-wing reasons needed to convince a majority, or close to a majority, of his or her constituents that the bill should be defeated without large, left-wing concessions.

To put it a bit more crudely, one reason Progressive members of Congress have relatively less influence over Democratic White Houses is because Democratic White Houses--and their legislative proposals--tend to be very popular in blue states and blue districts.  That just makes it easier for Democratic White Houses to get concessions out of Progressives than out of Blue Dogs, at least on a general level.  Because of this, we raised about as much hell as we realistically could have done, and still only achieved this list of concessions.

While this is not the only cause of relative Progressive legislative failure compared to Blue Dogs, it is still an important factor.

Chris Bowers :: One reason why the Progressive Block was largely ineffective

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Huh? (4.00 / 4)
"It is virtually impossible for a member of Congress to have leverage over the White House when the White House is on the side of the majority voters in that member's district, but that member of Congress is not.  To truly have had leverage over the White House, and have received much bigger concessions, any member of Congress blocking the bill for left-wing reasons needed to convince a majority, or close to a majority, of his or her constituents that the bill should be defeated without large, left-wing concessions."

55 to 70 percent of the public, including in Blue Dog districts (including during the win of Brown in MA) supported the public option. What are you talking about? You also set up a false frame once again about defeating a bill versus what must be included to obtain progressive support. If the WHite House wanted to disagree with the progressive bloc (whatever that is) over the public option last summer, I would loved to have seen that battle go down. In stead, what went down was capitulation behind closed doors during  fall. This data, by the way, as I have said before about a public health care plan for all has been consistent since at least 2003 when the polling data I found was examined.  


Do you do anything else besides read Open Left? (4.00 / 1)
21 comments today, most of them lengthy.

There was a lot of support for the public option. that is why we were able to get a lot of members in Congress to back it.

However, there was never any evidence that more than 12-13% of the population wanted to block a bill that lacked one.  Just because a provision is popular does not mean that blocking a bill that lacked that provision was also popular. That;s both bad logic, and also lacks empirical support.


[ Parent ]
It takes me about 5 minutes to write these (4.00 / 3)
When one is not bogged down with making excuses for people. It's easy to write this shit fast. You may want to try that rather than complain because it took me 1 minute to write this post for example to you right now.  

[ Parent ]
It's easy to write fast (4.00 / 2)
but you also evaded the one substantive point he did make.

Just because a provision is popular does not mean that blocking a bill that lacked that provision was also popular. That;s both bad logic, and also lacks empirical support.

On that point, he's right.

The back and forth between the two of you and what you think of one another, I couldn't care less about.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
except he's not. he's assuming (4.00 / 1)


[ Parent ]
Yes (4.00 / 1)
I agree that it is shit.

[ Parent ]
You're criticizing him (4.00 / 6)
for spending a lot of time at your blog?

That's weird.  


[ Parent ]
Chris, I think you are right to a point, but then you fall into the trap of the MSM (4.00 / 3)
You say that 35% of the people are opposed to the PO.  But what per cent of those people are FOR any health care reform?

If we assume that about 55% of the people support Barack Obama, then 12-13% would equate to about 25-30% of Barack Obama's supporters.  If you suddenly lose the support of 25% of your supporters, what are the chances of re-election?  On the other hand, if you piss off 35% of the population that won't vote for you anyway, so what?   Well, so what is that you can keep Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Joe Liebermann, all the other Blue Dog asshats re-elected so that you have cover to continue being the President who gives lip service to the people while pocketing the goodies from the corporations.  

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
OMG (0.00 / 0)
Chris is going innnnn. At first I thought he was real nerdy but then I went back and looked at his photo and he does look a bit on the crazy side. You're still my fave Chris.

Extraordinary progressive star in the making

[ Parent ]
Are you upset that someone reads your site on a regular basis? (4.00 / 1)
You should be thankful that folks take the time to read your writing and engage you on the issues.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Wow, Chris, you put down (0.00 / 0)
readers because they read your blog too much and comment.

I hear you.  I'll be going.  

You owe him an apology.



[ Parent ]
by the way that 13 percent you are crapping on if they don't show (4.00 / 1)
up in the fall what happens to the party?

Of course they'll show up! (4.00 / 4)
Where else are they gonna go?  The new inspiring slogan of the Democratic Party!  Now with more war and less Social Security.  Who isn't going to show up and vote for that?  Look, Sarah Palin!

Heh.

Personally, I'm going to go and cast a blank ballot or vote third party in protest.  Most people will probably just stay home.

But it does seem that we have two groups developing:  1) folks like Chris who think everyone will simply take whatever shit they're handed by the Dems, call it progressive and simply be grateful Dems are 1%* less evil than Republicans and 2) we have the folks in the Obama administration who are so delusional as to think they'll be better off politically with a GOP Congress.**  It would seem like they couldn't both be wrong, but somehow I think they are.

I keep hoping that some day liberals will wake up and realize that they need to quit trying to be "pragmatic" and "work within political reality" and, instead, have the imagination and courage to try to change the political reality.  The truly great accomplishments in this country - abolition, women's suffrage, civil rights, gay rights, the New Deal - were not driven by people who accept the limited reality offered by our betters.  They were accomplished by scaring the hell out of our betters and creating a world in which it was in their best interest to change things.  Not trying to make sure we don't insist on anything that makes our betters and their corporate masters uncomfortable.  

Which is why I'm not worrying about elections or voting anymore.  I'm putting my money and energy in social movements.  I suggest others do the same.  Otherwise, we're going to keep getting this weak crap from both parties.

* Before Obama's performance I would've said the Dems were 2% less evil, but 1% is about the best I'd give them now and the gap is closing fast.

** Given that the legislation will be more along the lines of what the White House wants (e.g., gutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) with some crazy shit Obama can veto or water down to make it only 99% crazy and claim progressive victory, I can see why the WH thinks that.  What makes them delusional, however, is their apparent belief the GOP will do anything short of trying to destroy Obama (not that I can think of any reason why liberals should object to that, given that Obama is far more damaging to liberals than the GOP could ever hope to be).  If they think their political future will be better once the GOP has subpoena power, they're as batshit crazy as the GOP is.  


[ Parent ]
I am not going all that deep (4.00 / 3)
My point is really simple. In politics, as my friend who used to work with a rather famous Democratic governor, used to say 'you dance with those who bring you to the ball." That's why saying it is only 13 percent, when those numbers probably represent Democratic voters, is problematic. Where do they think they are going to make that number up at if these voters do as they did in MA? I don't see it as a good thing.

[ Parent ]
I won't show up. (4.00 / 1)
I've had it, but I am curious how the 30+ Senators who are pretending to back a public option are going to orchestrate their grand and glorious capitulation.  


[ Parent ]
I'm with you (0.00 / 0)
In fact I'll go one farther.  I'm will to vote Republican for the first time in my life next time if there is not a better option.  I'd rather deal with someone who I know is my enemy than a supposed friend who stabs me in the back.  The old Dems vs GOP game of politicians in order to get donations has become ridiculous.  Now that the Supreme Court says that businesses can give and spend all they want, our donations are irrelevant.  The only thing we have left that they need is our vote.  

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
They still need our time as volunteers, too. (0.00 / 0)
Unless they want to start hiring phone bankers, door knockers, etc., but that would just be begging to get raked over the coals.  If there's no change to campaign finance regulations in the next decade, though, I suspect we'll begin to see this sort of thing more and more often.

Health insurance is not health care.
If you don't fight, you can't win.
Never give up. Never Surrender.
Watch out for flying kabuki.


[ Parent ]
It gets way more right-wing (0.00 / 0)
In that case, then progressives lose all control over the party. Which leads to more right-wing victories within the Democratic Party and the country as a whole.

Right-wing Democrats rise to even more power. They will cheer you not showing up. They won't miss you when you are gone.


[ Parent ]
You mean like the right wingers? (4.00 / 4)
Who held to their base and beliefs and now own that same right wing party that is threatening to take over from the spineless democrats?  God forbid we do something similar and lose an election to shift the focus of the party.  Heavens, the vapors!  The vapors are upon me Chris!

[ Parent ]
You don't gain control by sitting out (0.00 / 0)
You are going to have to explain to me how left-wing voters staying home results in left-wingers taking over the party.

People who don't show up in general elections are not going to show up in primaries. They certainly are not going to run for party office at any level.

As far as donating goes, the Democrats will just suck up even more to right-wing money.

The left-wing will not increase its influence over the party by sitting out. Dean took over the party by engaging it. Obama did the same.


[ Parent ]
Not all battles are won in one election cycle Chris (4.00 / 1)
First we have to administer punishment.  Then we can start seeing how to put the pieces back together.  There isn't any instant gratification for this frackked up mess in the Dem Party.

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
Really? .. (0.00 / 0)
The left-wing will not increase its influence over the party by sitting out.

Where would they be if we stayed home?  Didn't volunteer?  They'd be stuck in the minority, that is where.  Sometimes I think a lot of those asshats would prefer to be in the minority.  That way they could vote for Republican stuff and not catch much flack.


[ Parent ]
Yes they would be in the minority (0.00 / 0)
and they'd be moving even farther to the right trying to pick up Republican votes because, after all, they can never please you, so screw you.  

[ Parent ]
If they are as willing to please the right wing as please me (4.00 / 2)
then, with all due respect - Screw them.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
You have to target the worst offenders. (4.00 / 4)
No one should sit home for a progressive, even if they failed at healthcare reform.

But if you're Rep. is a blue dog, you should send your donations and phone minutes off to help another, more progressive candidate. If your Senator is Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman, you might consider not voting for them.


[ Parent ]
yes (4.00 / 1)
no doubt I'll support guys like weiner, kucinich, sanders, franken, brown but not anyone farther to the right

[ Parent ]
Well, sure you do Chris (0.00 / 0)
There are two levers you can pull: carrot or the stick.  You seem to think the entire political spectrum is the carrot (money) and no matter what it must flow in abundance to get anything.  Well, guess what?  The right has more (and likely will always have more) money than we do on the left - even if we all give until it hurts.

So we'll try the stick.  It's not hard man, you show up for the primaries and vote for someone if they replace an incumbant you dislike, or if no good primary opponent you stay home for both primary and election.  If Democrats (esp moderates) lose enough seats this way, you are saying they won't court progressives in the future?  I just don't buy it man, there is great power and control in disciplined destruction.  

Honestly, I think it might be the only path we have left with the Dems.


[ Parent ]
What a strange thing to say. (0.00 / 0)
The wingnuts took over the GOP by coming out of their churchly woodwork and voting en masse. In contrast to sitting it out an bitching about the party as had been their habit. Unless and until we find a way to blow away the sucking 2-party system we're stuck with, all we have to work with is the primaries.

[ Parent ]
Why does it lead to more right-wing Democrats winning? ... (4.00 / 5)
those are the asshats that are going to lose this November .. and besides ... how many people know this bill is a bailout(or big gift) to the insurance industry?

[ Parent ]
As if Progressives control the party now (4.00 / 6)
they do not.  The conservadems do.  All continue participation does is funnel lefty activism and energy into a cause that does not produce any lefty results.  Just think where we might be on healthcare if we hadn't spent so much time begging for a watered down PO instead of demanding single payer.  We might not be seeing single payer pass, but we'd be much farther along is getting the public to demand it (it's already extremely popular) and believing that some day it might be attainable.  

I do not deny that in the short run, backing away from the Democrats and reassessing might empower the conservative branch of the party (although it's hard to see how it can become more powerful than it already is).  But good policy and changing the direction of this country is not a sprint, it's a marathon and the short run is going to be a move to the right in any event because the party, again, is run by neoliberals, starting with Obama and then moving on to the entire Congressional leadership.

The Democratic Party is like a roach motel for progressives, using all of the energy they could otherwise be putting into a movement that would actually pressure our leaders to change course and instead funnels it into convincing people that what they want and need is not "realistic" and to be sure to vote Democratic in November.  As it stands, they sell out to corporations, pat "progressives" on the head and thank them, and then expect progressives to go out and sell the conservative POS bill - further to the right than what Nixon proposed - as a great progressive victory.  Meaning that not only do we get stuck with neoliberal, corporate healthcare policy, but when it fails, it will now be considered a progressive policy that failed (kind of like NAFTA).

You seem to think the way political victories are won is by picking a team and then trying to pressure the team from the inside to please, please, please listen to you.  When, in fact, every major progressive victory I can think of in this country - abolition, civil rights, gay rights, women rights, the New Deal - came not from within any party, but from pressure put on the system as a whole from outside the Party.  Most of the New Deal's ideas started with the communist and socialist parties and in the midst of general strikes.  Abolition took a hundred years and a Civil War.  Women's suffrage took women being arrested outside the White House and beaten at the Occaquan Work House.  Healthcare - and economic justice - are the same kind of struggles and are going to require, IMO, more than just voting for whoever screws you over the least.   That path does nothing but move us more slowly to the right.  It doesn't change our course.  It just continues the ratchet effect two-step.

And to return to the larger topic here, the reason progressives were ineffective - they were ineffective because they were always going to vote for whatever bill Obama told them to vote for (and we're getting essentially the bill Obama wanted).  There is no need for him to concede anything to people who were always going to cave.  When you constantly draw a line in the sand and then step across it every time when pushed, nobody is ever going to give you anything.


[ Parent ]
One More Thing (4.00 / 5)
and then I'll shut up.

Ian Welsh has a very good post about what this country needs to do to fix itself.  None of these things are even being discussed by our political elite in any meaningful way.  They are "off the table" and "not politically realistic".  If we don't find some way to change that dynamic, we're screwed.  Simply winning small concessions from the Democrats isn't going to do that.  We need to think bigger and figure out how to change the political reality they operate in.  If we don't, then it doesn't really matter what we do because it won't be enough to change the overall direction of this nation.


[ Parent ]
Great posts BDB (0.00 / 0)
You said what I was trying to with more eloquence and detail than I could muster.  Bravo!

There is the stick and the carrot.  Why can't we use the stick again?!?


[ Parent ]
Great posts BDB (0.00 / 0)
[However, the concluding metaphor in the first one should be more along the lines of:  When you constantly draw lines in the sand but step back every time an opponent crosses over one and pushes you, nobody is ever going to give you anything.]  

[ Parent ]
The reason is simpler (4.00 / 5)
Conservatives will ALWAYS have more leverage when it comes to negotiating over legislation for the simple reason that conservatives, as a matter of philosophy, do not mind doing nothing.

In other words, the more Conservative one is, the more likely one will take the view that the less federal government, the better (at least when it comes to anything involving the economy).  Thus, they can walk away from negotiations a lot faster.

To overcome this natural tendency, I think there must be evidence that any proposed legislation is not just popular, but overwhelmingly popular.


Conservative threats to withhold support are real (4.00 / 3)
Right after the first go-round with Stupak he basically taunted us for making threats we could never carry out. At least on HCR that's largely right, because literally lives are at stake if we sink the expansion of Medicaid and HC subsidies if we don't get our pony. The "pro-life" conservatives have no such concern about saving lives -- and are allowed to go unchallenged on this hypocrisy.

Progressives must find something where they take a stand, make a threat if they don't get their way and carry through with the threat if forced to do so. Until that occurs our threats are toothless.

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans


[ Parent ]
Stupak was right (4.00 / 5)
Progressives need to learn from Bart Stupak, who has come a lot closer to his goal (health care reform with strong abortion restrictions) than progressives who seek universal, single-payer health care.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
Again, you are spot on. The lesson is to be more like Stupak. (4.00 / 2)
While the lesson for others seems to be more like the team that just lost the game. I keep saying the issue is in the character of progressives rather than in organization or messaging.  

[ Parent ]
And you keep being wrong about that. (0.00 / 0)
Stupak has a no-lose hand.  The issue he really cares about, abortion, (he obviously doesn't give two shits one way or the other about health care reform) he cannot lose with.  If he doesn't win his amendment, he's no worse off than he was before.  There isn't any middle ground he'd be sacrificing.  This is not the case with HCR.

On HCR, most supporters will settle for the weaker bill, although a fairly sizeable minority, let's call them 13%, may not.

It's not so much character as it is politics.  You keep playing a pair of threes like it was a full house, eventually you get found out and wiped out.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
Yes everyone is wrong except the peo who keep losing due to their assumptions. (0.00 / 0)
There are so many assumptions in your post that it would require one of those lengthy posts that Bowers complains about above.

[ Parent ]
You use 13% because you think it empowers your argument (0.00 / 0)
But that is 13% of everyone.  But in terms of HCR supporters it is more like 25-30%.  Stupak, on the other hand, probably does represent about 13% of HCR supporters.  So let's jump on his bandwagon.  

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
No, I used 13% because bruh used 13% (0.00 / 0)
But tell me - what % of those who favor the public option do YOU think favor the defeat of their Democratic congresspeople who vote for a Health Care Reform bill that does not include it?

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
I'm going to disagree with that (0.00 / 0)
Based on his record, I believe that Stupak does legitimately care about health care reform.  He just places a strong priority on abortion.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
So, he cares about healthcare reform (4.00 / 2)
but he thinks that women are second class citizens, and he wants more of them to die from sepsis (or "Stupak", as it will come to be known).

OK, got it.


[ Parent ]
Yes, he cares about it (4.00 / 1)
a little, but not as much as he cares about stopping women from getting abortions.

Actually, I'm not even sure he does care about it.  HCR is a tactic for him, an opportunity to advance his politics on abortions.  Without the effort to pass HCR his abortion stuff goes nowhere now.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
Or to put it more simply, it's the same old story -- (4.00 / 2)
where are the progressives gonna go? The turncoat Dems can credibly threaten to vote with the Reps. Progressive threats to vote down something like HCR are far less credible. Turncoat Dems, if they refused to vote for a progressive measure, would be voting, at least to some degree, in accordance with their priorities and their perceived best political interests. Progs would be voting against both their own inclinations and those of their base, thus losing both credibility and support. It's hard to see any real way out of this as long as our stinker of a two-party system survives.

Good, let the Blue Dogs vote with the GOP (0.00 / 0)
How easy would that make it to get Dems to vote against them in the next election.  Very, I suspect.

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
Progressive need to punish Obama over this (4.00 / 5)
I'm not sure how, but they need to find something that Obama, the Blue Cross dems, and Nelson all want, and then shit all over it, publicly.

And do the same thing again and again, until Obama starts asking the progs what they want in return for not fucking up his plans.


Well, President Obama at least wants himself to be reelected (4.00 / 1)
Perhaps this is something we liberals/progressives should deny him?

(Ben Nelson and Blue Cross would probably be okay either way on Obama being reelected.)


[ Parent ]
Not going to happen (4.00 / 2)
After much hand-wringing, the left will capitulate and back Obama after running around like headless chickens crying, "Oh noes, if Barack loses, the Republicans can has enough Supreme Court appointments to overturn Roe v Wade".

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
Well we got our work cut out for us then (4.00 / 1)
and the first thing we should do is to make sure everyone we know reads this.

[ Parent ]
Only if you have the cajones to do it. (4.00 / 1)
I do.  But I don't hear too many others around here willing to go that route.  But let me make it clear.  I will never again vote for that lying crooked bastard, Barack Obama.

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
Obama has said on multiple occasions (0.00 / 0)
that he doesn't care about being reelected.

Now, I believe he's lying, but I can't prove it, and there's not even enough circumstantial evidence to make a decent argument.  But he's screwed us over enough already, so I just don't believe anything he says without proof that backs it up.  I consider the burden of proof to be on him, not on me.

But here's the thing.  If he's being truthful, then we have nothing that he wants.  We have no leverage.  We can't deny him anything.

So the only practical thing we can do is assume he's lying and treat him as if he wants to get reelected.  That's the only path that gives us even the chance of getting what we want from him.

Health insurance is not health care.
If you don't fight, you can't win.
Never give up. Never Surrender.
Watch out for flying kabuki.


[ Parent ]
I don't think he said he doesn't care about being reelected (4.00 / 1)
He said that he'd rather have a single productive term than two weak terms.  At this point he may not get either, so boo hoo for him.

But I don't think that if you went up to him and told him you wouldn't be voting for him because he was too conservative, he'd shrug his shoulders and say, "Like I give a fuck."  He still wants our vote. (If he really didn't care then he shouldn't even bother to run for reelection.)

I think that, just as we needed to have a credible threat for the public option to pass, we need to have a credible take-down plan for President Obama.  Now is the time to start thinking about how to do this.

The first and foremost thing we have to do is to convince as many liberals as possible that Obama isn't on our side.  I think there was a real failure to do the salesmanship on the Progressive Block on the PO.  Too many liberals, as we see here, believe that it's okay to have a mandate with no public option.

We can't let the same thing happen with Obama.  I suspect many liberals are still clinging to their Hope posters and bumper stickers.  We need to really get the word out, starting now, that Obama sucks, and we should start finding someone else for 2012.

Telling everyone about this is a good place to start.


[ Parent ]
Well, whatever he said, (0.00 / 0)
The effect ends up being the same.  If he wants to get reelected, he's going to need our support.  Simple as that.

Which isn't going to happen with my family.  They're already disgusted with him.  I didn't have to say a word, and they don't read blogs.  If they're any indicator as to how other people are feeling, the Dems are going to take a beating this year, and Obama's going down in 2012 unless they pull their shit together.

I'd pity the Dems, but...


Health insurance is not health care.
If you don't fight, you can't win.
Never give up. Never Surrender.
Watch out for flying kabuki.


[ Parent ]
Damn Straight (0.00 / 0)
The place to start is this health care bill.

[ Parent ]
War funding and letting Bush/Cheney off the hook (0.00 / 0)
If Obama wants to continue the neo-con policies, then he should do so without support from the left. Tacit or otherwise.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
You seem to assume (4.00 / 14)
that the White House has some real allegiance to Progressive ideas and they are just employing strategy where they believe they have the greatest chance of success. I think that's a huge assumption at this point.

The reason Progressive ideas aren't championed forcefully by the Democratic Party is simply because the Democratic Party establishment in this day and age does not believe in Progressive ideas. Period. They see us as useful idiots they can play to for votes, but when push comes to shove they aren't going to put their money where their mouths are. Because they simply don't WANT to.


How the fuck do I assume that? (4.00 / 1)
I wrote:

If you are just looking to pass a health reform bill at all costs, as it seems like the White House has been trying to do all along

How the fuck is that assuming that the White House has some real allegience to progressive ideal? I explicitly wrote that they were just trying to pass a bill for the sake of it.

Thanks for fucking reading the post before pointing out how you had a much better idea than it. And the four people who recommended your post apparently have the same awesome reading skills.


[ Parent ]
Chris, I think you take this too personal (4.00 / 2)
Much of what we say is only in shades of what you say.  As I've said before.  You are one the good guys.  But you are too trusting, too willing to believe in this President.  He played us all.  We are all getting to know him at different trajectories.  You have much more invested in the movement and it is much harder for you to separate yourself from this administration that you worked so hard to support.  Most of us are just prodding you because we rely upon you to be one of our spokesmen.  

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
You misread Chris, WCD (4.00 / 1)
I don't think he believes in this President any more than you do.  But he is looking a little more clearsightedly than you, IMHO, at what the next steps should be.  

Obama is what Obama is.  The question is still, do you want the Republicans back in, loaded for bear, and smarter now than they were back in the days when they were fat, happy and complacent?  Assuming not, what's your best move?  That's what you need to think about.  I think that's what Chris is thinking about.  Are you?

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
It's a matter of opinion (0.00 / 0)
I think the enemy you know is less dangerous than the enemy you don't.  I believe ridding the Democratic Party of DLCC people is more important than worrying about Republicans.  We can win against the GOP at some point.  But not if we allow these pro-corporate whores to control our agenda.  

From my playbook, it is the apologists who need the eyeglass cleaner.  I'm not sure what category you want to be in, so, roll your own.

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
what the fuck (4.00 / 1)
is everybody's fuckin problem! Fuckin reading skills assumptions. I don't give a fuck!!

Extraordinary progressive star in the making

[ Parent ]
Yeah, screw all those banging fuckers! (4.00 / 1)
:D

[ Parent ]
Woah, Chris. No offense intended. (0.00 / 0)
I was specifically referring to paragraphs 4 and 5 (yes, I DID read the entire post, as I generally do).

Consider the case of the Progressive Block, a strategy I wrote a lot about over the summer.  The goal of this strategy was to get the White House and the Congressional leadership to pressure right-wing Democrats into supporting a couple of key progressive demands.  The plan was to threaten to join with Republicans and block "must-pass" legislation, such as health reform, unless one or two specific progressive demands, such as the public option, were met.

However, there was a serious flaw in this strategy: it was never the path of least resistance for the White House to apply more pressure to right-wing Democrats than left-wing Democrats.  

I inferred from this (perhaps incorrectly) an assumption that the White House wanted to meet those Progressive demands, and simply couldn't if they wanted to pass a bill at all, following your path-of-least-resistance argument.

I'm merely arguing that your path-of-least-resistance argument is sort of taking the long way around. I don't believe overall that it's the logistical issues primarily preventing Progressive measures being passed, but that the Dem establishment pays lip service to progressivism and really doesn't want to pass those measures in the first place.

Your last sentence recognizes that there are plenty of reasons progressive measures don't reach the President's desk for his signature. I agree, and I don't dispute that the model you argue is one of those reasons. But I think the overarching and much more direct reality is as I've described above.  


[ Parent ]
Chris gets it then looses it - (4.00 / 6)
When I read this:
Still, I think it is fairly safe to venture that one reason for the relatively greater success of conservative Democrats in shaping Democratic legislative policy is that, generally speaking, a Democratic President has a lot more potential leverage over progressive members of Congress from blue states / districts than over conservative Democrats from red states / districts.

I thought wow - Chris gets it then when he said this:

it was never the path of least resistance for the White House to apply more pressure to right-wing Democrats, instead of left-wing Democrats, over health reform.

I thought goody he really is seeing things as they are but then he said this:

To truly have had leverage over the White House, and have received much bigger concessions, any member of Congress blocking the bill for left-wing reasons needed to convince a majority, or close to a majority, of his or her constituents that the bill should be defeated without large, left-wing concessions.

and I realized he has lost it again.

May I suggest an alternate and frankly simpler explanation?  The Blue Dogs will walk if they don't get their way and the Progressives, or what we call Progressives in DC, will cave.  Tell me who will get their way?  That's why the path of least resistance has always been right through the middle if the progressive camp.  It has nothing to do with how the folks back home feel about this or that policy - its all about who will cave and how fast they will do so.  

Since the folks that call themselves Progressives in the House and Senate will always cave they don't have to be taken seriously.  I call it the "Doormat Syndrome" - that's where Progressives have been for a long time and until they say no to the Democratic Elites that's where they will stay.  Re: what causes the Doormat Syndrome - well that's easy too - its all tied to the "lesser of two evils" games we have played too long - once Progressives stop voting for anybody with a D after their name things will change.

Lets not kid ourselves Progressives have no power in the Democratic Party not because of some complex interactions between the White House, House, Senate, the folks back home and the various phases of the moon rather its because they are Doormats and the Blue Dogs aren't.  If Blue Dogs don't get what they want they will walk but if the system refuses to listen to Progressives we hang around and let ourselves be stepped on.  Its really that simple.  Until we sit out an election and lets several DINOs loose there ain't any reason for the Establishment to care what we think at all.  This ain't pretty but is how the system works - unfortunately the Blue Dogs know it but we don't!


We have to take it farther than sitting out (4.00 / 1)
We need to punish, openly punish, some of these Blue Dogs.  We need to have our media outlets go after them unrelentingly.  We need to go into their districts and rally against them.  Talk local progressives into sitting out the election.  We need to support progressive funding operations and make it clear we are going to apply some tough love.  

We also need to support those people who have supported our causes.  

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
I agree absolutely - (4.00 / 1)
We need to not only sit out and let some bad Dems loose we need to prove to the system we did it and tell them why.  If we disappear we gain nothing but if we can prove to the Elites that they lost because they have shitty candidates and this is exactly how many votes they lost then they will have to listen.

We gain nothing by being doormats but can gain a lot by pulling the doormat out from under the Elites.


[ Parent ]
In other words: Democrats will never represent our interests. (4.00 / 5)
We've been played.

No, not until we force them - (4.00 / 7)
You are correct - we have been, are, and will be played until we force the Democratic Establishment to pay attention to our concerns.  Sadly, its gonna be both hard and easy to do so - we have to stop automatically voting for and supporting anybody with a D after their name.  That means we will have to not vote sometimes and let Republicans win.  Until we do that we are Doormats.

[ Parent ]
one more thought - (4.00 / 1)
We have to find a way to let the Dem Establishment know we aren't gonna play anymore.  You just can't disappear - you have to tell them you didn't vote for Senator X or Rep Y because they were and are a stinking sack of shit. And that you aren't gonna play the lesser of two evils game anymore.  Once they realize that your/our vote isn't automatic they will start to pay attention to us but not until then.

[ Parent ]
I think we need more. (4.00 / 2)
We can't compete with money.  But we can increase our effectiveness by actively working against them with our time, money and votes.  Sitting home on election day costs them one vote; donating and volunteering for the opposition (in a primary or even in the general) more than doubles our influence.

I became apathetic after Clinton along with many others.  It was a mistake.  Things are way too messed up now to merely sit home.  Time to fight back.

Take Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid.  While it would be ever so sad if the Democrats lost a vote from their massive majorities in both houses, it would still be a boon for the country regardless of who they are replaced with.

Republicans couldn't defeat Medicare for All.  It's popularity is way too high and it would be logical and political suicide to oppose it on the merits.

But the Democrats accomplished what the Republicans could not do:  they defeated Medicare for All by simply keeping it off the table.  They've pulled essentially the same trick on torture investigations, financial regulation, and a host of other issues.

The enemy to progressive reform is not the Republicans.  They lose on the merits and they lose in the polls.

It's the "off the table" folks who are the road blocks.

And they both face the voters this fall.


[ Parent ]
I don't think this is part of Chris' plan (4.00 / 1)
No, not until we force them

Because the progressives have every reason to support the bills that are negoatiated by the conservoDems and Red Moles. As I read his analyses, its one of doing as little as possible because doing more would upset the rest of the Democrats.

I do not see how such a strategy will ever "force" any one to policy to the left.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
I agree - that's why Chris's approach will fail (4.00 / 1)
Chris is more concerned with explaining away the actions of the Elites in the Dem Party and protecting them from the grassroots then forcing them to toe the line.  Nothing new here - its always his attitude.  

[ Parent ]
Not so much "fail" (4.00 / 1)
as accomplish the limited goals deemed to be allowable by the realistic analysis that he produces with regularity.

It is a matter of perspective.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
thanks for reading (0.00 / 0)
Wrong. Try again.

Progressives lost precisely because blocking a bill that lacked real concessions was against popular opinion in center-left districts.


[ Parent ]
They should have done it anyway and then sold it back home. (4.00 / 1)
Isn't that what Obama and the DNC will have to do with this bill anyway? Push it through and then sell it like crazy before November?

Why shouldn't the CPC try the same thing?


[ Parent ]
Or, generate the popular opinion to oppose the bill from the left (4.00 / 7)
You make it sound as if public opinion is a fixed quantity that is just there and will never change.

Why did virtually no few Representatives and Senators make the case that a mandate with no public option was essentially legalized slavery to the insurance industry?  Instead, we had to rely on, of all people, John Shadegg, who was willing to say what every liberal politician should have been screaming from the rooftops.  When you find yourself having to rely on a conservative Republican to make your case, you know you're fucked.

That's one of the many problems with liberal politics in general.  Liberals, both politicians in D.C. and ordinary voters, all too often sheep-mindedly wed themselves to the Democratic Party, President Obama, and whatever bullshit happens to be emanating from their collective assholes that day.  Our true liberals in Congress need to learn how to politely but clearly disassociate themselves from the centrist/corporatist/New Democrat tendencies of the Democratic establishment and President Obama.  Dennis Kucinich and Anthony Weiner have both done this to some extent and they show a model for how to champion liberal goals and policies independently of the establishment going forward.


[ Parent ]
That's kinda funny. (4.00 / 1)
Because if this corporate bill were so popular, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion.  But it isn't popular.  In fact, in might be political cyanide.

Blatantly using Obamacare as leverage, a teabagger kicked ass in a Massachusetts Senate race.  

But, what would us "f$%&ing r******" know about popular opinion in a center-left area?  You know, other than election results.  Of course, the only recent knowledge "serious" Democrats appear to have about center-left districts is how to lose them - to teabaggers no less.

But you're definitely right about one thing.  Voting Democratic appears clearly "Wrong" for those with a progressive agenda, and the next time we even consider a Democratic candidate we should instead just "Try again."

Our time, money and votes have been wasted on these whores.

Thanks for the courtesy and the sound advice.


[ Parent ]
That's kinda funny. (0.00 / 0)
Because if this corporate bill were so popular, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion.  But it isn't popular.  In fact, in might be political cyanide.

Blatantly using Obamacare as leverage, a teabagger kicked ass in a Massachusetts Senate race.  

But, what would us "f$%&ing r******" know about popular opinion in a center-left area?  You know, other than election results.  Of course, the only recent knowledge "serious" Democrats appear to have about center-left districts is how to lose them - to teabaggers no less.

But you're definitely right about one thing.  Voting Democratic appears clearly "Wrong" for those with a progressive agenda, and the next time we even consider a Democratic candidate we should instead just "Try again."

Our time, money and votes have been wasted on these whores.

Thanks for the courtesy and the sound advice.


[ Parent ]
That's kinda funny. (0.00 / 0)
Because if this corporate bill were so popular, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion.  But it isn't popular.  In fact, in might be political cyanide.

Blatantly using Obamacare as leverage, a teabagger kicked ass in a Massachusetts Senate race.  

But, what would us "f$%&ing r******" know about popular opinion in a center-left area?  You know, other than election results.  Of course, the only recent knowledge "serious" Democrats appear to have about center-left districts is how to lose them - to teabaggers no less.

But you're definitely right about one thing.  Voting Democratic appears clearly "Wrong" for those with a progressive agenda, and the next time we even consider a Democratic candidate we should instead just "Try again."

Our time, money and votes have been wasted on these whores.

Thanks for the courtesy and the sound advice.


[ Parent ]
Really? (4.00 / 2)
It is virtually impossible for a member of Congress to have leverage over the White House when the White House is on the side of the majority voters in that member's district, but that member of Congress is not.  

I don't agree about this. This point is true, to the extent that public pressure (realized or potential) is the mechanism for WH leverage.  But there are other means of leverage (fundraising, appointments, etc.)

I'm not even sure the extent which public pressure was used at all by the WH against conservatives or progressives.  OFA organized a few 'call your congress members and give them some encouragement' things, but I find it hard to believe that this put any fear into anyone.

It may be that the threat was implicit, but if that is true than progressives got played, because I don't believe for a second that the WH / OFA could mobilize the rank and file to do anything.

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


i agree with david here (4.00 / 4)
at least from a very external standpoint, it felt like this debate and the decisions that were made within it were largely within the realm of elite politics.  the influence of a broader public was really extremely limited - even Fox News couldn't manage to kill the bill.

but i think some of the structural factors you point to chris are plausible.


[ Parent ]
The lesson is that voters don't matter to progressives in DC (4.00 / 2)
I don't know how anyone can look at the polling data on the public option other than to conclude that Progressives in Congress prioritized what DC thought over what the public wanted.

[ Parent ]
you mean elites don't care about people? (4.00 / 2)
:D

the evidence is always there, but the movement towards social democracy seems consistently stifled, decade after decade.


[ Parent ]
except I imagine that the progressives in congress don't consider themselves elite (4.00 / 2)
they do this nice one, two trick whereby they are both in congress, but have no power.

[ Parent ]
Sure makes getting corporate donations a lot easier. (4.00 / 2)
[ Parent ]
that's where the objective reality part comes in handy :) (0.00 / 0)
i mean, i know white people who call themselves black, but that doesn't change $hit :)

[ Parent ]
except I imagine that the progressives in congress don't consider themselves elite (0.00 / 0)
they do this nice one, two trick whereby they are both in congress, but have no power.

[ Parent ]
True Regardless of WH (0.00 / 0)
You framed this all from the point of view of White House pressure, but everything you state is true even without White House pressure.  Progressives want to pass something improve the country and Blue Dogs would just rather not pass anything at all.

Obama wants to pass anything at all, as long as it say healthcare reform on the top. (4.00 / 5)
So, progressives should be using that desperation, not caving to threats from the other side.

And don't think that all those blue cross democrats are so eager to kill the bill, it's a massive giveaway to their most important donors, after all.


[ Parent ]
Difference between why you lose and Stupak does not (4.00 / 4)
summed up at over Firedoglake.

http://fdlaction.firedoglake.c...

One day hopefully progressives in DC will be willing to listen and think of a new way of thinking and how to get things done. Until then, I don't forsee anything going well for them.

The hardest lesson I've had to learn in the last year and half is that fear means a lot more to people than asking politely.  


Right (4.00 / 8)
The reason the progressive block didn't work is that progressives in Congress weren't sincere when they said the bill had to include a PO.

Pretty much, negotiating 101, right? If you make a threat, mean it.  


[ Parent ]
Freedom to Walk Away (4.00 / 3)
I think this is technically correct, but the result be no bill, not a better bill.  Which would be a worse result, in my opinion.

And really, this is at the very heart of the arguement.  Those that think progressives should do a better job negotiating are the same people who think this bill is worse than the status quo.  Those who are disappointed but think we did ok overall are the same people who believe this bill is much better than the status quo.

That's what this is really about.  It actually has nothing to do with "negotiating" and everything to do with the freedom to walk away.  Those who feel that freedom, because they think the bill does more harm than good, want to push negotiations harder.  Those that think this is an improvement, don't want to throw it away.


[ Parent ]
Thank you. (4.00 / 1)
for cutting through the BS, better than I did.  When Stupak is held up as the model, I wonder why I am even wasting my time here.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
Of course if you're mostly satifsfied with this bill (4.00 / 2)
stronger negotiations aren't going to be as important to you.

[ Parent ]
You keep assuming the other side truly had the freedom to walk away (0.00 / 0)
On what to you basis this assumption?

[ Parent ]
Burden of Proof (0.00 / 0)
Because the other side isn't asking for health care reform, would be the main reason.  I'm defining the "other side" as those right-most individuals who are needed to make 50% (or 60%, as the case may be).

I didn't see Blue Dogs, Lincoln or any of the Conservatdems demanding health care reform, nor any Senators from Maine.  Heck, something like 17%* of all Dems in the House didn't vote for it, proving how easy it was to walk away.

So I think the burden of proof lies with you.  What makes you think they believe they can not walk away?

---

* Quick mental calculation based on it barely passing with Dems controlling less that 60%.  Probably off by a percentage or two.


[ Parent ]
You didn't prove anything so stop asking me for proof. (0.00 / 0)
You are repeating CW. You believe it. But your opinion does not make it fact.

I have no idea whether you are right or wrong because the idea of testing whether your fears, in fact, represents the truth is not something that occurs to progressives in Congress to do.

It is just accepted as gospel, and capitulation follows from there. You can not know if you are right either because the assumptions you make are not tested. They are just repeated as if they are facts.


[ Parent ]
bruhrabbit: (0.00 / 0)
As I've said before, the AFL-CIO did threaten to walk away from this deal, and got something good for their efforts.  They had a credible and righteous threat to make and they made it.  Of course their goals were quite a bit less grand than yours, but still, that's one example of how this sort of thing works in the real political world.  

They pick their fights carefully and play conservative poker.  And yet here they are, in the forefront of the Dump Blanche Lincoln campaign.  If that succeeds, it will largely be through their efforts.  They don't win big but they sustain over time.  Which is more than I'm positive I can say about the NetRoots at this point.

You really ought to acknowledge this  Then we might have a serious discussion of their strategies and tactics.


sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
You're reinforcing this Blue Dogs/ConservaDems have nothing to lose BS (0.00 / 0)
Which is not true.  They may have not pushed for health care to be on the legislative agenda, but once it was they were stuck, since we apparently all agree that once you start something big you have to finish it or else you'll lose in the next election.

And guess what?  The ConservaDems are the ones who will be hit hardest by wave elections.  They're useful to us in that they're like a safety cushion - we can shoot for liberal stuff and if we mess up/fail they take the damage.  Good.  It's not like they're particularly useful for anything else.  So we, or the President, could've very easily walked up to any Blue Dog and said, "I know you hate this public option, but it's gotta be in there, and if it's not and we don't pass this thing I won't be losing my job - you will.  How do you like them apples?"

Also, there are a few blue state ConservaDems, most notably Joe Lieberman.  There is no excuse for not at least holding a million health care public events touting the PO in CT.  Since Lieberman seems to be sensitive to his Jewsih supporters, we (or rather, President Obama) also should've tried going to every synagogue and Jewish organization in the state to talk about how great and necessary the PO is and what a skunk Lieberman is for defying his constituents on it.  And we should've started pushing to slash funding for violent video games studies.  Maybe we could even find another guy named Joe Lieberman to run on the Connecticut for Lieberman slot in 2012.  Hit the bastard where it hurts.


[ Parent ]
re: synagogue (0.00 / 0)
Since Lieberman seems to be sensitive to his Jewsih supporters, we (or rather, President Obama) also should've tried going to every synagogue and Jewish organization in the state to talk about how great and necessary the PO is and what a skunk Lieberman is for defying his constituents on it.

didn't LBJ do something like this?


[ Parent ]
So it would have been better (4.00 / 1)
if they had never mentioned the public option?  It would have been better if they lined up right for the start for Rahmbama's Insurance Care?

I don't think so.  How would that have been better?  Assuming that the Public Option is now dead, if nothing else, the idea has been put out there.  Maybe some day we'll be able to make something out of it.

It's not that they didn't know how to negotiate, it's that they didn't know how to make the case to the people.  They thought people would flock to the banners of the public option.  They didn't and when they didn't they didn't know what to do.  The people weren't going to make noise in the streets about the public option.  They might poll in favor of it, that's about the level of commitment they had - a mile wide and an inch deep.  When you consider the lame-ass crap that passes for Republican propaganda, how come we couldn't beat it if we're so damned smart?

Maybe - maybe - Obama could have put the PO over the top but what kind of a movement are we that we need a condescending savior to bail our asses out?

Have you ever been a negotiator, david?  I know bruhrabbit has at some point, but have you?    In the real world, you really don't always know if you're going to be able to stick to your guns or not.  Don't tell me about Negotiating 101, please, unless you've been there.  I have.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
Did you just give the President of the United States a pass for not doing shit? (4.00 / 4)
Maybe - maybe - Obama could have put the PO over the top but what kind of a movement are we that we need a condescending savior to bail our asses out?

So the movement is supposed to do all the work?  What's the President supposed to be there for then?  Sittin on his ass giving pretty speeches?  That's all this President has been good for, anyway.

Since the President is so useless and we're not supposed to need him to "bail our asses out", I guess it doesn't really matter who's President after the 2012 elections.  I mean, it's not like President Palin will bail our asses out either, right?


[ Parent ]
Hate to break it to you but (4.00 / 1)
So the movement is supposed to do all the work?  

Yes.  Unfortunately.  That's the way it's always been, that's the way it always will be.  Power never concedes anything without a demand.  And demands are expressed by something more than talking to a pollster or voting for hope.

What's the President supposed to be there for then?  Sittin on his ass giving pretty speeches?  That's all this President has been good for, anyway.

You'd like to hope he'd be there to lead, but it might not happen.  I'll settle for a Pres who gets the hell out of the movement's way.  But what movement would that be?  Was there a movement here last year?  I don't remember seeing one.

You think FDR willed the New Deal into being out of his own furrowed brow?  Go read some history.  You think LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act out of the goodness of his heart?  He was forced to.  By the movement, which wasn't just waiting for him to act.

And if you can't punish Mr. Obama without cutting off your nose to spite your face, then you might have to figure out how to put up with the SOB until you can figure out how to replace him with someone better.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
n/t (0.00 / 0)
Yes.  Unfortunately.  That's the way it's always been, that's the way it always will be.  Power never concedes anything without a demand.  And demands are expressed by something more than talking to a pollster or voting for hope.

You sound like a fellow John Edwards supporter.  Please tell me that you didn't vote for Barack Obama in the primaries.

You think FDR willed the New Deal into being out of his own furrowed brow?  Go read some history.  You think LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act out of the goodness of his heart?  He was forced to.  By the movement, which wasn't just waiting for him to act.

Yeah I know that.  When did I ever say that the President has to do all the work?  My point is that if the politicians and the outside movement are really on the same side, neither side should have to do all the work.  Both sides should contribute and meet in the middle to get this thing done.

My point was that Obama did not do his fair share of the work, which means that either he's a crappy politician or that he's not actually on our side. (Or both.) Either way, the result we got was about the same or worse as what we might've gotten out of a President Romney, McCain or Palin, which makes Obama about as useful to us as those three. (That's from the perspective of someone who thinks a mandate with no public option is worse than nothing.)

Of course there are other issues as well but having said that I see no reason why I should go out of my way to vote for Obama so we can supposedly save our country from the likes of some GOPer who can't do much worse since the office of the President is the 98-pound weakling of our political system anyway.  A Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin Presidency doesn't scare me knowing that Bernie Sanders and a few others can filibuster anything and everything while playing Nintendo DS on the Senate Floor.


[ Parent ]
I did vote for Obama in the primary (4.00 / 1)
My primary came at a point in time when Edwards was no longer a factor but Clinton still was.  I was never that thrilled with Edwards, who was saying all the right things but with a tone of voice that always struck me as insincere and condescending, good attributes for a trial lawyer but not for a President, necessarily.  

I came close to supporting Clinton but ultimately did not, her neocon antics and the fear of Bill dominating ultimately pushed my needle to the Obama side of halfway.  I described my decision at the time as 51-49.  You could look it up.

I agree with you on your disappointment with Obama, but not on your "not afraid of a GOP Presidency" trip.  You overestimate the power of a Sanders vis-a-vis the whole corporate-MSM nexus.  Ask yourself this: had you even heard of Sanders before 2009?  Even if you had, would you recognize him on TV?   This annoying climate we live in is what allowed Sanders to become a household word.  I would rather be fighting the bastards from where we are now than with a Palin or Romney presidency and the likely Republican Congress that would go with it.  These guys have learned a thing or two from the Bush fiasco.  They won't be such an easy target this time.

I don't see our side having learned much from our fiasco.  We're still just yanking each other's chains on the Internet.  We still by and large don't have a clue about how to talk to those who don't already agree with us.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
My vote came after Edwards was already out of the race too (0.00 / 0)
but I voted for him anyway.  And I've never been prouder of it.  My general election vote for Barack Obama is more than what he deserves, knowing what I know now.

I did support Obama over Clinton, in large part because Obama had used promising rhetoric about the need for active government and national community in the past, and also because I worried that Clinton would be another DLC/Third Way/New Democrat neoliberal who would staff her administration with the likes of Rahm Emanuel and Larry Summers.  Funny how that turned out.

Of course I'd heard of Bernie Sanders before 2009, and yes I recognized him.  The point I was making wasn't about just Bernie Sanders; it was that if Republicans can block everything we want, even when we had freakin 60 votes, surely we can block everything of theirs if they have less. (It's possible the Republicans could get to 60 votes by 2013, but unlikely, I think.  Assuming they get to 48 seats as the current OL prediction states, they'd have to pick up 12 seats in 2012, and unless things are phenomenally bad I don't see where they get them.  Yes, the four main ConservaDems - Lincoln, Landrieu, Nelson, and Lieberman - may help the Republicans achieve cloture, but Lincoln is most likely defeated next year, Nelson will either be defeated or switch to Republican in 2012, Lieberman will likely retire or be defeated in 2012 and Landrieu will probably be defeated in 2014.  How convenient!)

As for President Obama, just as we need to be able to walk away from HCR, we have to be able to walk away from him.  It doesn't serve our purposes if he can walk all over us and still get our vote because we're scared of the Big Bad Wolf.  And c'mon, we all lived through the Bush years.  We know what's it like, and we (or at least some of us) still made it out alive.  So scaring us with Doomsday about a Republican President in order to prop up a useless (and actually harmful) Democratic President is not going to work.

And yes, I agree that we need to learn how to sell our ideas.  That hasn't changed and President Obama has not helped us much.


[ Parent ]
FDR and LBJ didn't compromise with themselves from the git go (0.00 / 0)
They fought for their programs, spoke to and educated the public. Puh-leeeese!

[ Parent ]
Puh-leeese yourself. (0.00 / 0)


sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
Puh-leeeese yourself. (0.00 / 0)
They were both pushed by large movements that weren't waiting around for them to act or thinking they were "organizing" by writing the same critiques over and over.

FDR had the Communists, Socialists, various unaffiliated labor agitators engaging in local general strikes, unemployed councils marching in the streets and back in the distance, a still relatively new, fresh and not yet completely discredited Soviet Union serving as a model of attraction.  This allowed FDR to maintain and get away with the idea that he was only saving the capitalists from themselves.

LBJ had Civil Rights marchers on the march throught the South and the North and the spectacle of sheriffs sicking police dogs on little children, church bombings and all kinds of activity of that sort to force his hand - which, back in the 50's, had been a staunch friend of segregation.

We have, what, in the way of pressure on Obama?  Open Left, Daily Kos, Firedoglake, Huffington Post, MSNBC.  Not even close.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
I don't know if it's fair to call LBJ a "staunch friend of segregation", even in the 50s. (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
That's the funniest thing I've read all day. (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Exactly (0.00 / 0)
I'm not sure where sTivo comes from.  I don't think he's an apologist exactly, although he sounds like it.  It's more like one of those pawnshop operators that will take any deal they can work out.  

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
I come out of many years fighting in working class movements, WCD (4.00 / 2)
and I'm not trying to sell you anything.

I am trying to help you see that this shit is hard, that is  if you actually want to win and not just sit here bitching and moaning about it.  And yes, that requires an attitude adjustment.  You might not get there in your lifetime.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it.  

I'm certainly not trying to sell you Barack Obama.  I voted for the man but I wasn't expecting much more than another corporatist Dem.  He was my Senator.  I knew about where he was coming from.  No bumper stickers to peel off my car.

You show me a non-suicidal path to get to something better and I'm right there with you.  But I don't think that's going to emerge sitting around here bitching about how Democrats negotiate.  I've been in movement negotiations.  And I don't think all the folks here talking about "Negotiations 101" have ever taken the course.  And as for making idle threats, I'll remember that the next time I hear a "primary his ass" thrown off without any thought as to how.  

Bruhrabbit has negotiated a few business deals, nobody else has owned up to any real experience.  And Bruhrabbit's business deal experience doesn't translate well into movement negotiations, IMHO.  In a business deal, it's not much wider than the people sitting around the table that count.  Businesses are DICTATORSHIPs.  

In movement negotiations, the relations between the negotiators and those they're negotiating for are very fuzzy and indistinct.  There's nobody going to sue a politician's ass for misrepresentation.  And anything you want to do you have to convince a majority to go along with.  It's not even close to an analogy.

Bowers is playing an important role.  Looking for a silver lining that will maybe keep this rickety-ass thing around for the next battle.  You guys keep promising a sleeker vehicle, but I don't see it yet.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
Hhmmm--negotiating with yourself, as Obama did (single payer off the table from the gitgo)-- (0.00 / 0)
How is that good for accomplishing goals in politics, business, who does the housework, anything???

How does continually moving right, giving way on issues without getting anything in return, serve anyone's interests? Unless the negotiator, Obama, is actually getting toward the objectives he himself wanted....


[ Parent ]
Also, sTIVo, Obama would not let his own physician speak on behalf (0.00 / 0)
of single payer (his former Chicago doc, plus kept the partner away from official mics as well).

When I attended an OFA meeting, the initial attempt to get supporters on board for Obama's health whatever plan, about 85-90% at the meeting wanted single payer, a Medicare for All.  

We were told that we were helpful, bcz if we supported single payer then Obama could compromise on, get this!!! It was in their talking points-- a public option. They drew lines on the whiteboard, talked about moving the discussion leftward! Bamboozlement 101.

We asked over and over for a description of Obama's desired public option. NO INFO at all.

Doubt crept in: We were asked to sign a petition asking Congress to pass Obama's whatever plan with public option. Again, no descriptions, definitions.

Most left without signing, except for some true believers.


[ Parent ]
It's not a fair fight, of course (4.00 / 2)
Moderates are backed by the Democratic establishment, including Obama, and corporate power. Progressives have to be twice as strong and twice as smart just to have a chance.  

Well, they could start by being twice as mean. (4.00 / 1)
[ Parent ]
this post makes my brain hurt :D (0.00 / 0)
There are some interesting implications of this part:

If you are just looking to pass a health reform bill at all costs, as it seems like the White House has been trying to do all along, by far the easier move here is to apply more pressure against Representatives from districts where both the White House and health reform are popular.  And by "pressure," I mean things like OFA, primary challenges, popular opinion, and more.  Compared to Blue Dogs, it is easier for a Democratic White House to a Progressive member's constituents against him or her.

If you're right, many of the steps that you talk about could involve increased public discussion of the issues in Blue Districts, which ought to foment more pressure in reaction to and against the centrism of the White House.  Which would explain how a district might head from 'Blue' to 'Progressive' and thereby increase the leverage of the person representing the district in future negotiations (in the same way that Sanders has his own machine/base).  On the other hand, if public opinion is effectively hegemonically massaged against the progressives in those districts, then the ploy will work at favouring conservative Democratic politics.

In any case, can we just remind ourselves that Democrat!=Progressive.  Again.  all the talk about 60 vote majorities in the Senate and a President and all else were never about getting Progressives into power right now -they were defensive moves to prevent crazy ass republicans from coming into power (as opposed to the lieberman / david brooks type).  so it's not surprising that a somewhat conservative democratic party with a pragmatic/centrist president and an institutional setup designed to destroy anything major from ever getting through ended up with legislation that reflects that.  that they are likely to get any legislation through at all that's not totally and completely horrendous (which this isn't) is mind boggling given how messy it all is.

but that's why overly focusing on the legislative or electoral realms is not great if it is too much to the exclusion of what needs to be done to generate real social democratic activity in every place in the country and generating real political dialogue rather than pablum or crazy-ass-fox-news.  there are so many things that need doing and so many resources that need to be redirected.  The amount spent on one candidate could fund how many neighborhood meetings?

anyway, i know, i know, not either/ors, but i do feel that there's an overemphasis on The Bills and not on The Folks.


They are Democrats after all (0.00 / 0)
Compromise, consensus and diversity of opinion are at the core of the party. While after action reports are a requirement, where we go from here is more so.

I'm sure you have been thinking about that. Here are some of my quick thoughts.

The block has to be applied early. We have our most leverage at the start of the process. The more political capital that gets invested the less leverage we have.

We need to maximize the progressive block. But to do so we have to start doing some battle field preparation. We need to start running concern ads soon for the next cycle. Potential progressive candidates need to see a reasonable chance to win a primary.  


Parsimonious explanation (4.00 / 5)
The explanations extended in this diary are plausible but in my view far too complicated in the face of a much simpler, more elegant, and powerful explanation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I...

Many progressives in Congress are elites (think Pelosi's husband), even if nicer ones. Whatever their views, in any case, when they conflict with the interests of still more powerful elites, those views will gain little traction within the policy system. They are pounding stones not because of voter sympathies or preferences (political alignment theory) but because of the dominating interests of business elites. Earlier progressive accomplishments (New Deal and Great Society) were driven by either labor militancy or labor power, or both, but neither exists in significant measure today.

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?


At Last (0.00 / 0)
I was starting to think as I read through all the comments that no one was going to say it.


[ Parent ]
In defense of Chris's analysis, if not his tactics (4.00 / 5)
From my perspective, Chris is better versed in politics-as-it-is than we are, and what he says does indeed reflect the current realities of the political process in Washington, and is more accurate about voters' attitudes overall than we'd like to think. The truth is that if people with our views were a majority in the country, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

So, as I look at it, Chris's job -- which in my opinion he does as well as it can be done -- is to get what we can get, given the political circumstances as they are. Our job is to convince people that what Paul calls the right's hegemony over our political definitions is the bullshit that we all know it to be. Frankly, I don't know which job is the more difficult one.

What I do know is that if Washington wants a revolution, they're on the right path. I'm perfectly happy if Chris continues to warn them of that fact, to shame them where he can, and to try to augment and improve progressive influence in the Democratic Party and in Congress, while we talk and act as though the revolution were already underway. Don't mourn, organize, isn't the simple bumpersticker that it appears to be. Let Chris, Matt and Mike work on Moloch's head. We've got plenty of work to do gnawing at his unfortunately sturdy ankles.


Yep. (0.00 / 0)
I always have to remind myself who much the Left needs the folks against this bill because it is too conservative.  Intellectually, I understand this.  The boundary must be pushed.  I would love it if this bill got passed with everyone understanding the Left was not happy about it.  In that way, I want Obama to triangulate against us.


[ Parent ]
It really isn't about Obama (4.00 / 4)
He's just the latest in a long line of important people who don't get it. If he wants us out of his hair, and appoints Emanuel to make sure that we get stiffed, let him. Believe it or not, our eyes aren't on him; they're on the prize, and we'll be here long after he's gone, no mattter what he does or doesn't do.

We shall overcome, isn't a simple bumpersticker either.


[ Parent ]
Make Obama Irrelevant (4.00 / 4)
That's my motto.

If we're sitting around here waiting for Obama, constantly assessing Obama, then we're not doing the movement-building things that might actually force Obama's hand.

Fight for what we need.  Don't worry about Obama.  You want to talk about 2012?  Come see me in 2011. Otherwise it's all BS.  Eyes on the prize!

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
No, Obama is relevant (0.00 / 0)
because I suspect that there's still a large contingent of nominal liberals that are still all caught up with Hope and Change and will.i.am YouTube videos, that they still feed off everything that oozes out of Barack Obama's slimy asscrack.

Those of us paying attention know better, but we have to make sure that this Obama cult is defeated once and for all.  We have to deprive Obama of this automatic die-hard base (if it still exists) and force him to actually stand on his record, which is selling us all out to the special interests.


[ Parent ]
And, without their votes, too - right? (0.00 / 0)
I would love it if this bill got passed with everyone understanding the Left was not happy about it.

The case would be far easier to make if the left had been seen as being stingier and more principled in their opposition - from the very start. Now, I fear, they will be made to look like hacks that voted for a bad bill because they wanted to have a victory lap to run during the campaign.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
What I will do, what the Open Left blogoshpere should do! (4.00 / 2)
The reality is there are not enough progressives in either the House or the Senate to ensure the types of legislative initiatives that should be passed. Unfortunately, the large majorities gave the illusion of a more progressive environment then is actually present.

I will not give campaign funds for either Obama in 2012 or Bill Nelson, my home state Senator unless they both act to meet my progressive standards.  Right now, no monetary support for either.  I may vote for both but no financial support. That might get a look if several million others made the same pledge, as was started on this site many months ago.

This blog, and others, should work everyday to publicize and support Bill Halter against Blanche Lincoln, and Joe Sestak against Arlen Specter.  Pick other races, and make sure everyone here knows the better candidates to support and fund for 2010 and 2012.  


re: support (4.00 / 1)
This blog, and others, should work everyday to publicize and support Bill Halter against Blanche Lincoln, and Joe Sestak against Arlen Specter.  Pick other races, and make sure everyone here knows the better candidates to support and fund for 2010 and 2012.

jennifer brunner too

and she probably should go in the beginning of the chain-of-support?


[ Parent ]
Yes! No money at all for Dem organisations! (0.00 / 0)
All progressive donation should go to progressive candidates directly. And imho the progressive blogosphere should unite in that call. Make that a big campaign pro Change an anti-establishment! And bring this into the media. Only if the message is noticed by the camapaign treasurers, the WH and the Dem Congressmen will take it for serious.

[ Parent ]
Moderates / leverage (0.00 / 0)
One of the reasons people like Landrieu and Nelson have a tactical advantage over Progressives is that they don't give a shit about policy outcomes.  Progressives desperately want to get things done for the benefit of the citizenry; thus, they are handicapped in their dealings with the so-called 'moderates' who couldn't care less if bills like healthcare fail altogether.

landrieu and nelson and lincoln (0.00 / 0)
care a lot for agricultural (big farm) appropriations, but I don't know if progressives are willing to use that as leverage

no question they should


[ Parent ]
The problem was most likely the failure of salesmanship on the idea of "public option or nothing" (4.00 / 2)
I just got off the phone with a pro-pass-the-Senate-bill friend of mine and in our discussion he made me realize a key failing of the anti-pass-the-Senate-bill side.

As the debate here on Open Left attests to, too few liberals see what this bill really is: a corporatist gift that'll make every American a slave to the insurance industry.  Only in a country thoroughly dominated by conservatives and conservative thought can the so-called liberals actually promote and defend such legislation.

As long as not enough liberals in Congress were sold on this stance, there wasn't enough backbone behind the "public option or nothing" cause and the Block collapsed.  It's not entirely because centrists have less to lose.  It's because somewhere along the line there was a failure to properly sell and frame this issue.

We should've been pushing a "slavery to the insurance industry"-type line since Day One.  Every time we talked about the bill we should've called it for what it was: a legal requirement to have health insurance.  The pro-Senate bill side really outflanked us to the left on this by using the line "this bill will cover 31 million Americans."  What a laugh.  The only things this bill will cover are the account balances of insurance company CEOs.  We should not have allowed that side to co-opt the term "cover".

There wasn't really the righteous fury against the idea of a mandate with no public option, and a Block strategy collapses when you don't have the passion behind it.  That's the lesson to be taken away from Stupak's successful push for his issue: the will to walk away can only happen if you have the passion behind it.  I think too many of us were convinced that merely saying "I will not vote for a mandate with no public option" without actually believing it, was enough.  It's not enough.  You have to actually believe it and make sure others know you do.

That's what Stupak's side had that we didn't.  And we didn't have that passion in part because we failed to articulate it clearly and frequently, but also in part because the pass-the-mandate side, including those of that inclination here on Open Left, kept browbeating and guilt-tripping those of us on the must-have-public-option side with constant lecturing about how people will die, blah blah blah.  I equate those of you who use this disgraceful argument to those who used talk of mushroom clouds to sell the Iraq war.  Fuck, you guys would probably force your sons and daughters into seedy prostitution to save a few million lives, because that's exactly what you're doing to me and every other American who prefers to not have their government pimping them out to an insurance industry that likes it rough.


This is what I meant by "a mile wide and an inch deep" (4.00 / 1)
This is where the "fix it with better negotiators" strategy breaks down.

On the other hand, I really don't share your view that this bill is worse than nothing so I guess we just have to disagree on that.  You really can't gin up passion that isn't there.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
Yes, I guess the passion wasn't there (0.00 / 0)
which I think is very unfortunate.  Only in America do people on both sides of the spectrum defend corporation-enriching giveaways.

Hey sTiVo, I may have asked you this before but did you support the 2003 prescription drug law?


[ Parent ]
Yup---Obama's Big Health Insurance Parasite Profit Protection Plan. (4.00 / 1)
BHIP-PPP.

At least Obama is usually careful to call it a health INSURANCE reform -- not health CARE reform.

What the public wants is health CARE. Instead we're getting a BHIP BAILOUT. Obama does love him those big corporations and banks....

Plus those mandates, which will mean some people, esp'ly those on the cusp of any support for the expensive premiums, will be forced to buy junk insurance to avoid fines.

Corporate SHAKEDOWNS with Government MUSCLE.

Realistically, real progressives would have fought like hell for real health care for every real person. Medicare (Improved!) for All...with a robust private option.


[ Parent ]
All this numbers-crunching B.S.… (4.00 / 1)
...the idea of a progressive move to block non-substantive healthcare reform was simple: We challenge the White House because everybody knew GOP-ers were going to reflexively vote "nay". So what if the White House applied pressure! I don't give a flying f-ck who it's easier for Rahm Emanuel to turn the screws on. Fortuitously, the numbers were on our side for that brief window at the start of last fall. Seizing the opportunity when it presents itself is how you win, and isn't it worth asking what percentage of that "roughly 35% of Americans who think the bill does not go far enough" are now disillusioned because it looks like we got nothing? How about what percentage in MA voted for Scott Brown? In any event, the missed opportunity is now old news...that ship has sailed and the current reality is much different.

"This ain't for the underground. This here is for the sun." -Saul Williams

Recipe for middling, half a loaf reform (0.00 / 0)
Nothing will ever happen to move policy substantially to the left because it will never be as popular as the middle ground conservoDem, bipartisan policy - at least as far as the narrative goes.

Given your scenario, how does one go about enacting wide-ranging, leftist reform policies?

How can the progressives "take over" the Democratic party if their main strategy is to only do what the M$M and the right wingers tell them is popular and offers the path of least resistance to re-election and oodles of $ from the lobbyists?


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


How about National Month of De-Registration from the Dem Party? (0.00 / 0)
As a wake-up call, progs/libs/lefties, if still registered as Dems, should assign a month for deregistation --and do it actually pretty damn soon-- to send a message to the DNC, Obama, Congressional Dems. Each deregistering Dem should email or call the DNC, pertinent Dem pols.

This would require coordination among several blogs. It might be dangerous to future careers.

Tell the Dems we're outta here until you start working according to the principles of the Democratic Party. Not the Corporatist FKDP*. Not the Blue Dog FKDP. Not the Blue Bunny** FKDP. What Paul Wellstone called the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party. The party that cares more for the people than the Corporate Persons.

The Democratic Party of FDR and LBJ, the party which took stands and acted on them, which made its principles known and stuck to them.

*FKDP--Formerly Known as the Democratic Party.

**Blue Bunny--Dem who is so scared of MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) and Repub criticism, he or she runs to the right..then further right...then, well....  Blue Bunny Dems can also be any other type of Dem, Blue Dogs, Corporatists, Progressives, libs. They just have to turn tail and run.


Nice idea (4.00 / 1)
but liberals will probably eventually come back to the Democratic Party fold, and this tactic will look like a flop.

A better way to send a message is to vote for primary and minor party challengers, even if that means throwing the election to the Republican.  We have to show these people that we're willing to walk away and that they need us, not the other way around.


[ Parent ]
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