Interesting Trend

Jake McIntyre has a post on Daily Kos in which he points out that parallels between supporting the Iraq war and supporting health care reform as it stands now:

Has anyone else noticed that the split in the progressive blogosphere between those who are saying “it’s a good bill in spite of everything” (Kevin Drum, Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein, Josh Marshall, to name a few) and those who just can’t bring themselves to support Liebercare (Markos and Digby come to mind, among bloggers who have been at it since 2003*) is eerily similar to the split between those who grudgingly backed the invasion of Iraq and those who fought against the war seven years ago?

I’m not sure that Jake is being totally fair, but the point is certainly persuasive and he makes it well.

The challenge, to me, is where the third category of people fit in. I would include myself and Chris Bowers in this group and think of it as a sober activist set (which isn’t to say that other activist bloggers are not sober, but that we see less room for any positive political outcome for progressives). Bowers writes:

If you oppose the bill at least partially because you believe it will result in negative political consequences for Democrats, well, you are probably correct in that assessment.  However, don’t delude yourself into thinking that defeating it somehow makes for a better political outcome.  It won’t, because there is no good political outcome at this point.

My main difference with Chris is that while the political outcomes may not look great, there is certainly still room for movement building through organizing around health care. This can take the form of trying to stop bad parts of the legislation, or simultaneously include efforts to strengthen the bill through improvements. The act of organizing around this high profile issue, building coalitions between advocacy groups, online progressives, and progressives in elected office is valuable and potentially something that can lead to sustainable  movement growth. This sort of movement building is what can be the breakwall that stops political damage from this fight reaching too far into the future.

It’s a complex case and the lack of clear paths to a positive outcome certainly speaks to how poorly the last year has been handled by leadership. I can’t imagine the next number of days and weeks is going to be a fun time to be a progressive activist. But maybe what comes out of this will be salvageable, either as a particular piece of policy or as the movement on whole.

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