There is nothing more influential and powerful in American Politics than a united and unswerving voting bloc.
If a group of (in this case) Representatives can mange to hold together, while holding a consistent political and policy viewpoint they are able to wield a great deal of power. Not just in the power of their votes, but in how legislation in general is approached and crafted.
We have all seen, much to our regret, how much power the Blue Dog bloc can wield. Because they are united and have a clear agenda that they represent, they are a force that simply must be reckoned with.
Well now there is a new Bloc on the block. The Progressive Bloc. And not only do they outnumber the Blue Dogs, but they are rising stars that have the potential to…IF they show they are powerful, attract new members and become even more of a force.
Wikipedia puts the number of ProgCauc (Gotta get a better name!) members at around 80.
The CPC’s founding statement of purpose states that it was “organized around the principles of social and economic justice, a non-discriminatory society, and national priorities which represent the interests of all people, not just the wealthy and powerful.”
According to their website, the CPC advocates “universal access to affordable, high quality healthcare,” fair trade agreements, living wage laws, the right of all workers to organize into labor unions and engage in collective bargaining, the abolition of significant portions of the USA PATRIOT Act, the legalization of same-sex marriage, strict campaign finance reform laws, a complete pullout from the war in Iraq, a crackdown on corporate welfare and influence, an increase in income tax rates on the wealthy, tax cuts for the poor, and an increase in welfare spending by the federal government.
In other words….these ARE the Better Democrats we have been looking for.
There is however, one serious, and very familiar, problem. The ProgCauc has traditionally been a herd of cats, Much like a certain website we are all familiar with. But just like that website, when they do come together and solidly get behind a cause or an idea, they have the potential to be VERY powerful. As we are now seeing in the Health care debate, with their insistence on a Public Option…and their victory in getting Obama to at least include this much in his HCR speech last night.
For example, some have suggested that that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies. Others propose a co-op or another non-profit entity to administer the plan. These are all constructive ideas worth exploring. But I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can’t find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice. And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.
A bit of weak tea….from anyone but Obama, who at this point still seems to be a bit disingenuous regarding the Public Option that the ProgCauc has fought so hard for. He seems in his infinitely non-committal, yet certainly more feisty style, to define it down. While at the seem time continuing the really disingenuous part, the…”Or something comparable that accomplishes the same thind” bit.
When everyone knows there is nothing comparable to the array of goodness the PO offers.
But still and all….what would he have said, what wiggle room would he have allowed, if the ProgCauc had NOT been holding firm on the PO?
We owe them a debt of thanks. And we owe them more!
We owe them our effort. Our effort to help them turn themselves from a herd of cats that has traditionally been scared off far too easily, into a REAL SOLID FORCE in American Politics!
As I said, these ARE the better Democrats. These are OUR Democrats.
And we need to find ways to empower them and encourage them and support them. Because empowering, encouraging, and supporting them is essentially empowering, encouraging, and supporting US. And our causes, policies and agenda.
And if you put on your Secret Translator Glasses and put them on the Centrist Rhetoric Needed to Get Elected setting and translate it into ProgCauc Talk….the agenda of the Progressive Caucus turns out to remarkably similar to Obama’s Agenda. At least the good parts.
We need to emphasize that. And we need to make sure both the ProgCauc and The President know it. Because as they both come to realize it, it will make them BOTH more powerful……and help immensely in passing true Progressive Legislation. In the face (so to speak) of the Blue Dog and Republican opposition to a Obama/Progressive alliance and agenda.
That alliance, especially as more and more Representatives, and even Senators get on board, could become THE most powerful force in Congressional politics.
Right now, in the hangover of the Liberal bashing of the Bush Years and the (now failed) post-partisanship program of Obama, this seems like a bit of a pipe dream.
But as the Repubs and Blue dogs continue their overweening and omnipresent Policy of NO and fight The Pres at every turn…who WILL he turn to for Congressional support? Who WILL be his allies in Congress?
This alliance could be THE game changer.
If we and they can find ways to encourage and nourish it.
Send a note to Raul Grijalva and go rec teacherken’s diary to keep it up where more folks can see it and send their own note.
CALL AND WRITE the Progressive Caucus members and both thank them for their efforts….and encourage them to stick together in their VERY powerful Voting Bloc. And encourage them to think about what a difference an Obama/ProgCauc alliance could mean to American politics.
Feel free to send them a link or copy of this diary if you wish!
And put your thinking caps on to find ways to make this alliance a powerful reality!