Progressive bloggers need to stop complaining about the economic recovery package and start prodding their readers to make phone calls. And you, dear reader, should join me in calling our senators.
There are two reasons why Obama’s economic recovery package needs to pass and why we, progressive bloggers and blog readers, should support it and call for action.
First, Obama must win this fight. I’m with Krugman, Stirling Newberry, and others – I’m not sure this package is going to be big enough or bold enough to solve our economic problems. But I can tell you one thing for certain: If this bill gets defeated, there will be absolutely no chance for recovery, let alone anything else like health care, energy, education, and the like. If Obama loses the first big fight he picks, he gets cautious really quickly, just like Bill Clinton.
Second, if netroots activists don’t go all in on this fight, we lose relevance. We criticize Democratic politicians for treating us like a cash machine to tap every time they need re-election funds. Once they’re in Congress they promptly forget about us and our needs. Well, if the only time we’re going to put our power and credibility on the line is when these people need to get elected, they’ll only turn to us during elections.
If we refuse to take a risk and get involved in legislative battles between elections, we shouldn’t be surprised when our wishes are ignored. Back before the election, we had no trouble asking our readers to get to the phones. I participated in an effort that generated hundreds of thousands of calls about FISA. There were numerous pleas for calls during the last SCHIP fight under Bush. But since the election I’ve seen none of this. If politicians know we won’t get their back during legislative fights, why should they stick their necks out for us?
There’s a lot of writing about the economic recovery plan on blogs like Daily Kos, Open Left, Americablog, Crooks and Liars, and Talking Points Memo, but something is absent. Not one post is asking readers to pick up the phone. Or write a letter. Or visit their Member of Congress. People definitely have something to complain about. But now that the Senate is debating, the time for complaining is over. It’s time for action.
To be sure, there are exceptions. MyDD has a post up. So does Seeing the Forest. So does Firedoglake. Bleeding Heartland too. ACORN is in on it. And Campaign for America’s Future has been doing a ton. But it’s hardly the swarm of blog posts we’ve had in the past.
Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh supporters outnumber progressive calls 100 to 1. As Bill Scher says:
Are we flooding Congress with phone calls (Call 1-866-544-7573 NOW!) to keep President Obama’s economic recovery bill big and bold? Or are we overly focused with perfection, letting conservatives, despite their diminishing numbers, dominate the phone lines?
I’m not saying bloggers need to support this package blindly. Our message should push from the left even as it supports. Asking people to call with the message, "Less tax cuts, more investment in jobs," if communicated loudly enough, would allow politicians room to move left in their policy. But there’s simply no excuse for sitting back, criticizing, and not calling for action.
So, for the country’s sake, stop complaining and start acting. I don’t care how you do it. Call the Senate switchboard (202.224.3121). Call your Senators in their home offices (look up their websites here). Go visit your Members of Congress, either in DC or at home. Sit at your computer and click a button to call your Senators. Health Care for America Now will even hand-deliver your letter to Congress if you just take a moment to write one.
We can be blind followers (like the Right), we can be supporters from the left, or we can be silent and irrelevant. I hope you choose to make your voice heard. And for those of you out there who blog yourselves, write a post asking others to do the same.