Leverage

2 comments September 29th, 2009at 07:25am Posted by Eli

Chris Bowers is hopeful that Reid’s vulnerable electoral position will make him susceptible to progressive pressure:

The bill the Senate Budget committee sends to the floor will be a merged version of the Senate HELP and Senate Finance committee bills. The merging will take place largely under the direction of Senate majority leader Harry Reid. As such, commenter danthrax notes an important point of leverage the progressive grassroots has in this process:

if reid is the only way forward…we may have a hope. Reid is up for a tough re-election fight

That is exactly right. If Harry Reid is the key choke point in this fight, then we have to use Reid’s uphill re-election prospects as our point of leverage:

  1. Polling against one announced Republican candidate, Danny Tarkanian, and one Republican candidate who has formed an exploratory committee, Sue Lowden, shows Senator Reid to be in a lot of trouble. In three polls, Reid trails by an average of 7.7% to Tarkanian, and by 5.8% across four polls to Lowden.
  2. Further, should Reid lose, Senators Richard Durbin (#2 in the leadership, key Obama ally) and Charles Schumer (#3 in the leadership, chair of DSCC during 2006-2008 landslides) are by far the most likely candidates to succeed Reid as Majority Leader. Either would be an improvement on Reid.
  3. Why should we activists bother to give Reid the support he needs to pull victory from the jaws of defeat if he is likely to be replaced by a more progressive, more aggressive, and electorally safe Democrat like Durbin or Schumer? Reid needs to give us a good reason to try and save his Senate position. If he decides to take the public option out of the health care bill before it reaches the Senate floor, what possible reason could be left to try and help him?

I, for one, am fine with a caucus that has 2-3 fewer Democrats, but a much better majority leader. I am also fine with working hard to elect Democrats who may not be progressive champions, but who do a good job of enacting progressive change in legislation. If enough progressive activists feel the same way and can make their positions clear, then we have a real stick and a real carrot in this fight.

On the one hand, I like the idea that we might be able to get Harry to listen to us for once, although I’m not sure that even his precarious position will be enough.  I also really like the idea that we don’t need to reflexively support Democrats who sell us out just because they’re Democrats.

But I guess for me the question is, even if we grant Bowers’ premise, is the public option worth another six years of Harry’s spineless, ineffectual “leadership” in the Senate?  Temporary leverage or not, I think we’re a whole lot better off without Harry.  And if we lose the “filibuster-proof” 60-seat majority, well, it’s not like Harry was using it anyway.

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Healthcare,Politics,Wankers

2 Comments

  • 1. Cujo359  |  September 30th, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Your last paragraph might be the key to why, even now, Reid won’t listen to progressives. His stock is so low with us right now that even if he somehow managed to ram a real public option through the Senate, he wouldn’t receive a whole lot of support from us. There’s been too much water under that bridge already. I don’t think it would take a political genius to figure that out.

  • 2. Multi Medium » Mark&hellip  |  October 15th, 2009 at 7:13 am

    […] said in previous posts, losing Harry’s seat wouldn’t be any great loss, since it’s not like we’re using that 60-vote majority anyway, and trading a seat for an effective leader would be a fantastic trade if we could make […]


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