Friday, March 26, 2010

Healthcare - This Was A Big Win - Two Views

This Was A Big Win


By Tom Hayden


Progressives For Obama March 24, 2010


This is not the time for progressives to mourn the

defeat of single-payer or the public option, it is the

time to cheer the health care victory as an important

victory and prepare to stop the right-wing in their

tracks and discredit their religion of market

fundamentalism. It's the time to push further against

that same fundamentalism by demanding such reforms as

regulation of Wall Street and a rollback of the Supreme

Court decision on campaign finance - all before the

November election.


We did not achieve what was politically-impossible,

Medicare for All. Insurance companies and Big Pharma

will benefit from the health care legislation, but the

Machiavellians always get their pound of flesh in

exchange for conceding reform. We added new health

protections for millions of Americans, opened

possibilities for further health reforms, and avoided

the beginning of the end of the Obama era, which frankly

is what the unified right-wing is still trying to bring about.


It is the nature of social movements to fragment and

decline when they achieve victories which fall short of

their hopes and dreams. It is the nature of counter-

movements to become more dangerous and unified when they

feel threatened with decline.


There is plenty of analysis of how the public came out

ahead in this final package despite all its flaws and

chicanery. Let me add one fundamental point no one has mentioned:


Passage of a trillion-dollar health care package means a

trillion dollars not available to the Pentagon for their long war.


In his book making the case for the US as a modern

Goliath, the conservative political philosopher Michael

Mandelbaum wrote of his fear that Sixties social

programs will undermine the appetite and resources for

empire, which he described as an American "world

government." [MM, The Case for Goliath: How America Acts

as the World's Government for the 21st Century, Public

Affairs, 2005]


"Democracy [will] favor butter over guns", Mandelbaum

worried. As programs like health care expand and social

security cutbacks are fought, "it will become

increasingly difficult for the foreign policy elite to

persuade the wider public to support the kinds of

policies that, collectively, make up the American role

as the world's government. Foreign policy will be

relegated to the back burner", he groused.


We have no moral right or even competence to be "the

world's government", of course. The more we invest in

our domestic needs - health care, schools and

universities, environmental restoration, green jobs -

the more unsustainable become trillion-dollar wars in

Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and beyond. The seeds

of an alternative foreign policy lie in building an

alternative domestic one. #


Tom Hayden, a former California state senator, is the

author, most recently, of The Long Sixties: From 1960 to

Barack Obama (Paradigm).


Senator Tom Hayden, the Nation Institute's Carey

McWilliams Fellow, has played an active role in American

politics and history for over three decades, beginning

with the student, civil rights and antiwar movements of

the 1960s.


Hayden was elected to the California State Legislature

in 1982, where he served for ten years in the Assembly

before being elected to the State Senate in 1992, where

he served eight years.




After The Vote


by Leon Wofsy


Leon's OpEd


March 23, 2010


My email batch today included angry condemnation by some

of my fellow leftists of the new Health Reform Act and

everyone who supported Sunday's historic vote. Laura

Bonham of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), of

which I'm a member, called it "A Kafka Moment" and

bitterly attacked MoveOn for congratulating the

Democrats who voted for it. Ralph Nader and Chris Hedges

scorned "craven Democrats", especially attacking Howard

Dean. This was an echo of the attacks on Dennis Kucinich

for "folding" when he announced he would vote "yes".


That's certainly not the way I see things. The times

call for militancy and resolve, but not for a nasty war

against anyone who sees today's momentous challenges

from a broader perspective than do Bonham, Nader and

Hedges. I can't support PDA in an assault on MoveOn. Nor

can I conceive of a significant American left if Dennis

Kucinich, Al Franken, Barbara Lee, Barney Frank, John

Lewis and Bernie Sanders just sold us out by favoring a

"yes" vote on the final bill.


Is it possible to see two realities at once? Is it

possible to be highly critical of limitations and

compromises in the new legislation and yet to see it as

an advance? Is it possible to recognize a flawed

process, with serious shortcomings, and still

acknowledge that in its final stage Barack Obama and

Nancy Pelosi did a praiseworthy job of advancing health

care as a basic right and beating back the violent

ultra-right counter-attack against the results of the

2008 elections?


It had better be possible to see the whole contradictory

reality as we go on from here. It's never been more

necessary to fight hard on a host of vital issues, yet

never more necessary to bridge gaps and hold a

progressive majority together. Whatever the

Administration does or doesn't do, holding back on

critical struggles is not an option for leftists and

progressives - not on ending the wars, fighting for

immigration reform, universal health care and jobs

programs, or fighting cuts in education and social

welfare. While pushing vigorously for the President and

Congress to live up to the promise of change that swept

the 2008 elections, we have the responsibility to do

everything we can to defend and extend what's positive

and hopeful. We cannot dismiss for a single moment that

a rightist and racist cabal has targeted the Obama

presidency, trying desperately to reverse the historic

opportunity to change America for the better. This

vigilante crusade aims not just at a return to something

like a Bush/Cheney regime, but something far further to

the right that's closer to fascism.


I'm glad the Health Reform bill became law and not

Obama's "Waterloo" as the GOP projected. The majority

can do a lot better and the door is open. It might have

been slammed shut not just on health care, but on any

possibility for progressive headway in the next several years.


Leon Wofsy is Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell

Biology / Immunology at the University of California at

Berkeley. His career in science and academia began when

he was almost forty years old. Earlier, for more than

fifteen years, he was a leader of Marxist youth

organizations. That experience began during the student

upheavals at New York's City College (CCNY) in the late

1930s, and encompassed the time of McCarthyism in the

1950s. He became a professor at UC Berkeley in 1964 just

as the Free Speech Movement was about to erupt. He is

the author of many scientific papers and articles on

social issues. He edited a book on the Cold War, Before

the Point of No Return (Monthly Review Press, 1986). His

memoir, Looking for the Future (IW Rose Press, 1995) is

available online in the Free Speech Movement Archives,

Book Collection, UC Bancroft Library.




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