Phone Banking the Sea

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January 18, 2010 3:46 p.m.

From TPM Reader BK

I called into Mass. today via Organizing for America and it did not give me a good feeling about tomorrow. The people I spoke with who said they would vote for Coakley were clearly already going to the polls; my call wasn’t necessary. But considering that I was presumably calling a list of reliably Democratic voters (the script was GOTV, not persuasion), I got too many Brown voters.

It makes me sick to my stomach — almost literally — that just when it seemed that health care reform would be enacted after so many decades and so many failures, defeat could be snatched from the jaws of victory because of this stupid Senate race. The fact that health care reform would already be law if Ted Kennedy hadn’t developed brain cancer and that this is what kills it makes me even sicker.

I do think there are plenty of plausible ways we could get health care reform even if Brown wins, most notably by the House passing the Senate bill and then fixing that legislation’s many flaws through a follow-up bill passed through reconciliation. But I am afraid there are too many weaselly, scared, chicken shit Dems to make this happen. Ironically, the reason we got to this place was entirely because too many Dems governed on the defensive despite winning two landslide elections in a row. It’s quite a contrast to the way Bush governed as if he got a mandate despite the fact that he really lost his first election.

They say that victory has a thousand fathers and defeat is an orphan, but I think the reverse will be true if Coakley loses. The parents of this loss would start with Coakley for making the mind-bogglingly stupid choice of taking her election for granted in a volatile year. It would continue with the senators — including Baucus, Snowe, Lieberman, Nelson, Lincoln and Landrieu — who needlessly dragged out a process that should be finished by now. Sadly, part of the blame has to go to the administration, for not insisting on a stronger stimulus that might have kept unemployment below 10 percent, for not being more assertive until now in making health care reform happen, and for letting the narrative of why Americans urgently need health care reform slip away.

I don’t think this means that Dems will inevitably lose Congress this coming fall, though it will be overwhelmingly spun in the media that way. But if Dems start putting their tails between their legs and focusing in deficit reduction, that might well come to pass. Instead, we need to start governing like the majority party we are and taking consistent, direct action that puts the quality of working families’ lives first, including passing health care reform and then passing a strong jobs bill (though reconciliation if necessary). Working families need to see that Democrats are actually fighting for them!

Late Update: TPM Reader DC phone banked too and says he had a very different experience.

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