"Keep your powder dry.",

Pick your fight, give it your best shot, wait for the moment to be right; all battle related cliches with more or less the same meaning: be strategic in your timing to increase your chance of victory. We hear them often whenever caution is urged, and even when inaction is urged. But common to them all is an implicit call TO action, when the moment is right.

For the Democratic Party, and for health care reform, that moment is right now. Tens of thousands of us, each working at our own levels, have worked for years to restore the Democratic Party to strong majority control of both houses of Congress, and to return a Democrat to the White House. Doing so required acts of compromise too numerous to be tallied, some from the left, some from the right. But working together we greatly increased our forces. For what?

Armies do not exist for the purpose of perpetuating those armies, and neither do political parties. They exist to defend the interests of the people they were created to be there to defend in the first place. And when called upon to defend those people over a matter important enough to fight for, an Army will risk casualties to itself in order to win the battles they were formed to fight. There may an electoral risk for some Democrats in doing the right thing now. There is a life and death risk to tens of thousands of Americans in not doing the right thing now.

Universal health care delivered in a way that truly serves the needs of the American people is a justice long delayed us, and this justice delayed has been justice too long denied, at the cost of millions of lives. It is the unfinished business of the 20th Century Democratic Party, and there has been no better time in the last 40 years for us to complete this work that we were called on to do under Truman. Nor is there any reason to believe chances will improve tomorrow if we fail today, more likely they would fade.

Did compromises have to be made to increase our chance of winning the health care fight now upon us? Of course. For thousands of us writing blind checks to the National Democratic House and Senate Committees on behalf of whoever they chose to support, knowing full well that some of our money would go to Democrats with whom we fundamentally disagreed with on many important issues, was a compromise with a purpose; marshalling our forces for the strength needed to win a critical battle for America. Allowing Joe Lieberman to retain his Committee Chairmanship and continue caucusing with Democrats, after personally campaigning for John McCain, was a compromise that made strategic sense, in the context of marshalling our forces for the strength needed to win a critical battle for America. And so was acquiescence to shoving plans for a single payer health care system back to the most distant of back burners in return for the promise of "a public option". That was a compromise made by many to preserve Democratic unity and strength.

But what is the purpose of having 60 members in a Democratic caucus if achieving and maintaining that caucus requires retreating from the fight we supported them to fight in the first place? We helped build this Party for a reason and that reason, the fundamental well being of the American people, dwarfs the importance of the continued well being of the current Democratic majorities in Congress, if the health of the latter can only be ensured by endangering the health of the former. This is no longer the time to "keep our powder dry", this is the fight we kept our powder dry for. Deserters, in war, risk court martial or worse.

Tags: 2010 elections, Congress, Democratic Party, Democrats, Health care, health insurance, Medicare, mid term elections, obama, Pelosi, progressive, progressives, Public Option, Reid, Single Payer, U.S. Senate (all tags)

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