Now what? The worst compromise since the one Xerxes offered the Spartans is on its way to becoming law. There were no 300 at an American Thermopylae turning back the tides of an oppressor. So there is no heroic last stand and not a lot for those of us on the Left to be in any way happy with.
We did avoid a default, though we have validated using the debt ceiling as a Sword of Damocles (which is completely the fault of the Democrats, since it was Sen. Kent Conrad that first used it as leverage to get the Cat Food Commission appointed by the president) hanging over the economy for as long as we are dumb enough to have a debt ceiling.
All this might leave one a little dispirited. This is understandable, but not acceptable. It is not acceptable for anyone that wants to call themselves an activist. It is the hard fact of this political life that as an activist one is going to get a lot of kicks in the teeth, especially when you are on the Left.
There is just so much money and institutional inertia in the system that the deck is stacked against us. Even those who we should be able to reliably count as Liberal or Progressive are caught by the need to raise money and to have the support of their political party to run and win. It distorts their ability to make votes on principal.
Still this is the time to review why it is we do what we do. I can’t speak for anyone else but I do this out of wholly selfish reasons. It’s true. The return on time, sweat and tears invested is huge, well, huge in the sense of personal satisfaction. I like the idea of an United States where people are treated equally regardless of their color or gender or sexuality or economic class. I’ve never see the full thing, but the vision of it keeps me going.
I like that idea of a government actually does the primary job it was established to do, namely leveling the field between the powerful (whatever that power is) and the less powerful. It is the promise of equality, though we tend to miss that a lot in our political fights. More importantly for a nation of laws not men, it is the promise of justice equally applied.
I don’t live that world that I like so much, but I can see that it is possible, and that is enough to fight for. This is true even when fighting battles that I know I am going to lose. There is more value in the struggle than people think.
The struggle is how we set the stage. It might be hard to believe for those who have only been politically active in the last decade or so, but the current conservative strangle-hold over political thought did not come about over night. It was built up over a long time, with quite a few losses along the way for the movement.
Even with the apparent power they wield today, they have not had it all their own way. Abortion is still legal in this nation. While the forced-birth slut-shaming forces are currently introducing and passing a slew of bills in the State legislatures, there is no assurance for them that they will pass Supreme Court scrutiny. Yet they are out there taking the shot.
This is where Liberals and Progressives should take a lesson. It is never just about the fight at hand. Everything must always be building towards our larger goals of a just, equal and fair society.
We can ill afford to fall back, complain and lick our wounds. We must return to the fight and redouble our efforts when we lose. The fight on this craptastic debt ceiling deal is done, but that does not mean that we can’t continue to fight within its frame work.
If we must have a “Super Congress” for all its undemocratic abdication of Congressional responsibility, then it is time to insist that actual Liberals sit on this abomination. We need to start besieging the Minority Leader Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid to appoint not the usual suspects who have gotten us here, but Democrats who have stood up to say this plan was insane.
Is it needlessly provocative? No, it is the right thing to do when we have been forced into a situation where the wants of the minority of the House of Representatives has prevailed. They were the ones who insisted on this one for one cut to debt extension. They are the ones that agreed, grudgingly, not to crash the world economy in exchange for this thing, well I say it is time to play hard! It is a forgone conclusion that the Republicans will do so.
As a practical matter this means saying no to appointing Sen. Kent Conrad or any other of the Gang of Six to this Super Congress. It is unacceptable that a man who will be retiring should be one 12th of a body that will decide where in our economy new deficit reduction will come. We already know his ideas and they are not just horrible for the nation they will be another undermining of the Democratic brand.
So, you got knocked into the dirty yesterday. You saw it coming and did what you could to prevent it, but it happened anyway. Now is the time to dust yourself off, review why it is you fight and take action. A good action would be to call up Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Reid today and tell their offices that appointing anyone but the most Liberal of Democrats to the Super Congress will be rubbing salt in the wound and will be a determining factor in your level of support for Democrats in general in 2012.
If you want a change to the status quo, the job begins, again, today. It is time to return to the breach, and this is the first action.
Here is the contact info for both of them:
522 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
Toll Free for Nevadans:
Here is Rep. Pelosi’s
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi 235 Cannon H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4965
Just for good measure here is the contact info for the DCCC and DSCC Chairs. Telling them that they can not count on financial support if the leaders fail to appoint Liberal Democrats will put a little more pressure on the leaders.
Sen. Patty Murray is the DSCC Chair
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
Phone (202) 224-2447
Fax (202) 969-0354
Rep. Steve Israel is the DCCC Chair ‘
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
Main Phone Number: (202) 863-1500
Now it is up to you. Will you sit in the dirt and take it or will you start the new fight? The Spartans fought to the last man and we remember them to this day. No one is asking anyone to lay down their lives on this, merely to fight for what you believe in. I know what I will do, how about you?
The floor is yours!