Last night the President did one of the things that he does better than almost anyone else, he gave a great speech. Taking the tone of confidence without arrogance, being willing to face the Republicans and put them in box by either applauding him or failing to applaud their own proposals, even by chiding them for their recalcitrance and stance of know nothingism. While it remains to be seen if he will push for the follow through which his speech called for it is interesting that the end of his speech was a political trope that should be dear to every politician.

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My Father taught one primary lesson to me as a child – sometimes you get beat, but you only ever lose when you quit. This has lead to a life time of being beaten, but it also has lead to a set of victories personal, professional and public. This is the lesson the American people get, whether they had a father who harped on it or not. We intuitively understand that having a dumb faith in ourselves, an inability to see that the mountain is unassailable and that we would be better off if we just packed it in that is central to our experience.

It is the willingness to risk, against odds that were clearly stacked against us, that lead to the pioneering of this continent. It lead to the Framers standing up to one of the most powerful empires of their time to found a new nation. It lead us to build a transcontinental rail road. It lead us to intervene in WWII, it lead us to the Moon, and it lead us to try to be a force for good in the world.

This is not to say that it is all good, this dumb faith, this willingness to keep going even when we probably shouldn’t. There is an arrogance that comes from winning through time and time again. That arrogance took a continent from the people already living there. It established a new nation in liberty, but did not extend that liberty to slaves or women more than 100 years. It let us become a power in the world and then abuse that power because of this dumb faith we have been right to keep going more often than not.

All of this is key to our way of thinking, and to me it is part and parcel of why the Democratic Party is in trouble with so many in the base. Even those to the left of me understand that you cannot win every fight, that standing up for something means getting beaten from time to time. It is the failure of the Democratic Leadership to actually lead, to say “The hell with the main chance, lets go do something right, something good” that gets under our skin.

There are many, many folks to blame for the hot mess that HCR has become, but chief among them are Harry Reid and Rham Emmanuel. Chief of Staff Emmanuel gets a big portion of the blame for not pushing the Presidents views with all the Democrats in both Houses of Congress. It is his job to get in there and make it clear that this is where favors are called in and earned, in passing the plan the President campaigned on.

The other big chunk goes to Sen. Reid. His wishy-washiness, his unwillingness to pull his caucus together and assure that if negotiations with the Republicans fell apart (as they were always going to) that he would be able to bring the plan the President proposed and the country gave his party an overwhelming majority to enact came to fruition.

Both of these men failed the basic standard of having to be beaten, instead of quitting. They quit the fight for the Public Option before it started. They quit the fight for the House funding measures, they quit the fight within their caucus and let the most timid and reactionary elements gain enough power to twist the HCR bill so far out of true that many liberals and progressives cannot support it.

Last night the President took a shot at ending this ceding of ground to the opposition. Yes, he is adopting some of their policies, which, to me, seems like a form of quitting. However he also made it clear that he intends to keep pushing for all the things he has laid out, even if some of them do not meet with the approval of all (or even most?) of his Party.

He called on Democrats to do the same. This is a call I support 100%. This will be a tough election year. It will be volatile, there is a real feeling of anger in the nation and that usually means that incumbents are in trouble. However, we Democrats are also Americans, we need to remember our dumb faith in ourselves, our inability to really see the odds and make a rational decision to hunker down. Every Democrat needs to stand up for what they believe and try to do some good. The hell with the political calculations! The odds say we are going to lose no matter what, so why the hell don’t we go down swinging? If we are to be beaten, then lets make the Republicans and the Big Money interests do it, lets not cower like kids who always give up their lunch money to the school yard bullies.

Let’s take the President’s words to ourselves. We should not, we must not quit. The people of this nation may very well reward a party that shows it is willing to be American, to struggle against the odds of winning and maybe, just maybe come through with a victory. Dad said, “There is value in the struggle, not just the victory” well the time to reap that value is now. We may get beaten. There is always the chance we will lose on the issues or at the ballot box, but would you rather say you fought and lost or that you never really tried for the brass ring?

The floor is yours.

Bill Egnor

Bill Egnor

I am a life long Democrat from a political family. Work wise I am a Six Sigma Black Belt (process improvement project manager) and Freelance reporter for