The Democrats should ask, “What would Paul Wellstone do?”

"If we don't fight hard for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we really don't stand for them." Paul Wellstone

As the House of Representatives stands ready to FINALLY vote on healthcare (or maybe not vote depending on which parliamentary trick Nancy Pelosi plays),  Republicans and the vast right-wing are howling like raped pigs, there’s really no reason to pump ya fist if you’re a Democrat.

Come November there will be fewer Democrats in Washington than there are now.  It won’t be because the GOP  came up with any better ideas.   In non-presidential election years, the party in power usually takes it on the chin.   This year appears to be no different for the Dems.  But because of their own ineffectiveness they have brought much of the pain upon themselves.  Estimates vary about how much blood will be spilled,  but nobody is predicting Democrats will gain seats in the fall.  The question is will Harry Reid win his reelection bid and stay Senate Majority Leader (doubtful) and will the Dems lose control of the Senate and House?

If they do that might not entirely be a bad thing.     Passing healthcare reform will cost the Democrats dearly.   Not passing healthcare reform will cost them even more.   In this time where courage is in short supply they need a Paul Wellstone.   And they don’t have one.

The late Paul Wellstone, the liberal lion who died in a plane crash once said, “I represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”   There are too many Democrats in Washington who don’t.   When he’s not on one of his bipartisan kicks, I think President Obama belongs in the Democratic wing of the Democratic party.

But as far as  Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, Bart Stupak, and the other cowards that make up the bulk of the Blue Dog Democrats I have my doubts.   The only thing these guys seem interested in is covering their own asses and making sure they get reelected.     The strength of the Democratic Party is its diversity and it is truly a national party with a variety of perspectives.  Unfortunately on major issues  we’ve witnessed the party break up into Balkanized factions that have little in common.

Given a choice between a weak Democrat who’s with the president sometimes and a committed Republican who you know is against his policies all the time, I’d rather have the Republican.   Better to know who your enemy is than to wonder who your friends are.   I’m willing to live with the Democrats out of power if that means getting rid of the DINO’s (Democrats In Name Only) and replacing them with real ones who aren’t trying to be Republican Lite.

The Republicans will make healthcare reform their number one campaign issue against the Democrats.   They believe allowing people to suffer and go without medical treatment and medicine is a winning issue with voters.   At least with their voters who presumably are all in perfect health and never will lose their jobs or coverage.

Well, what of it?  I would rather support a representative, senator, governor or president that stands up for what’s right than a bunch of cowardly chickenshits who only do what’s easy and politically expedient.   The Democratic and Republican parties are already almost subsidiaries of Corporate America and real, systemic reform is darn near impossible to get without spilling blood in the street.   There was a slim chance healthcare reform would include the public option, but single payer was never seriously considered.   Obama, Pelosi, and Harry Reid knew even with a Democratic majority there was never the courage to push for either.

It may cost the president and his party in November if a number of Democrats go down to defeat, but deeds have consequences.  There are a lot of voters just like me who voted with enthusiasm for them in 2008 whom have been left disappointed, disillusioned and disgusted by how badly they have screwed up getting healthcare reform passed into law.

McCain, McConnell, Boehner: Keeping your enemies too close?

The Democrats had exactly three things they needed to carry out before the elections:  stop the economy from collapsing, pass healthcare reform and get Americans back to work.  One out of three is not good enough.

Whatever I was expecting from the Democrats was not the timid and weak way they have exercised the mandate they were given.   Nor did I expect the president to squander his momentum wasting time in the futile pursuit of cooperation from the untrustworthy likes of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.   What was Obama expecting from people who screamed “You lie!”  and predicted if they could stop the president on healthcare it would be his “Waterloo?”    You can’t work with people dedicated to ensuring you fail.

When Ted Kennedy died a lot of the momentum behind the reform effort died with him.   It doesn’t have to be buried with Kennedy too.  Let the Republicans, tea party cranks and Fox News bitch and whine.   Shut out the noise and get about the business of trying to make the nation a little bit better than it was when the Republicans were in power.

Wellstone, like Obama, was a community organizer and knew how tough it is to wage a grassroots fight against entrenched, powerful interests and their minions all too happy to defend a corrupt and ineffective status quo.    This is the moment for Obama and his party to stand up for principle and run on their record or stand down and go down in bitter defeat.   It’s their call to make.  Too many people fall through the cracks the Republicans are ignoring and need the help healthcare reform can offer.  But there is no Kennedy or Wellstone alive to prod, push or shame their colleagues into doing the right thing.  They’ll have to find the guts to do it all by themselves.

Wellstone cautioned,  “A politics that is not sensitive to the concerns and circumstances of people’s lives, a politics that does not speak to and include people, is an intellectually arrogant politics that deserves to fail.”

Being weak, indecisive and unable to pull themselves together put the Democrats into this situation where they could win and lose at the same time.   They could have gotten healthcare done months ago when they had the momentum and the support of the public.   They didn’t and now they have neither.   Too bad.

Now it’s up to Obama and the Democrats.   Upon their own heads so be it.

The President's moment of truth is coming.