An Open Letter to the Good Folks at Firedoglake

To the good folks at Firedoglake,

Like you, I oppose this bill. I think that the Senate healthcare reform bill is a bad bill that enhances corporate power and I believe that when all is said and done any bill that does such should be opposed on principle.

Over the course of this debate, Firedoglake, with Dave, Marcy and Jane leading the way, has been a formidable force in the fight for a comprehensive healthcare package that actually tackles the root of the problem. It should be plain to all that spending 17 percent of GDP on healthcare is unsustainable especially when most other advanced industrial economies spend on average 10 percent of their GDP fully covering their populations while obtaining far better results. The gross inefficiencies in the US healthcare system, I think, are largely due to the near monopoly power that insurance industry and pharmaceutical industry enjoy. It should not be lost that these industries have spent nearly one billion dollars over the past two years to protect, maintain and expand that power. And unfortunately, they have largely succeeded in not just maintaining and extending their hold but in derailing any serious regulatory constraints over their practices. This bill does little to correct the gross inefficiencies inherent in our healthcare system. It may even further entrench them.

The fight against the encroachment of corporate power will, no doubt, go on. That our party has become a gross enabler of such perfidy and gross corruption is not just deeply troubling but disheartening. But I also know that the alternative that is the GOP is far worse. Their free market ideology coupled with their alliance with evangelical Christianity presents grave dangers to the general welfare and liberties of the country. While I, among others, question the wisdom of engaging in campaigns allied with Grover Norquist, that is your prerogative.

I am, however, increasingly troubled by the attacks emanating from Firedoglake particularly this latest round of attacks on those who have been at the forefront of the progressive movement. I am concerned that such tactics are ultimately more harmful than helpful. The recent attack by FDL Action on Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is an overzealous crusade. It is misguided and frankly incomprehensible. There is no question that his decision has been excruciatingly difficult. To suggest that he has "turned his back on us" and to question his "progressive" credentials is uncalled for. Let us allow that he is following the dictates of his conscience as we follow ours. It is one thing to prod, to engage and to reason with Senator Sanders but quite another to threaten him with the "loss of his seat."

Sign our letter to Bernie Sanders: If you want progressive votes in the future, you better cast one against the current bill now.

There is no reason to threaten a man who has spent a lifetime doing the hard work that is electoral politics and fighting the good fight against incredible odds. Let's recognize that his fight for the nation-wide expansion of Community Health Clinics is perhaps the most important advancement in this otherwise abysmal piece of legislation. I urge you to not to abandon your valiant efforts but rather to moderate the tone as well as to recognize that many important battles on issues vast and sundry remain ahead of us. Senator Sanders, no matter his vote on this measure, remains one of our greatest allies. He has not only fought for his constituents in Vermont but for the rights of all Americans. He should be accorded greater respect and afforded his rights of conscience inalienable.

Respectfully yours,



Charles Lemos
San Francisco, CA

Tags: Community Health Clinics, Firedoglake, Jane Hamsher, progressive movement, Senator Bernie Sanders, US Healthcare Reform (all tags)

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