Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Comments on The Comments! Civil Discourse: Truly, The American Way

Hi Girls,
Sorry for the delay in responding to your comments on my last post. I got long-winded, and figured a new post was a better way to respond. And healthcare, as you can see just from our comments, is an issue that instills passion on all sides! Perfectly A-O.K. here at Momma Politico.

Please know, Annette, that your comments are always welcome here, and you are a lifetime member of the unofficial MP Venting Club, as are Jen, MG, CM, CEP, and so many other great folks, even when we do not see eye to eye. The reason I haven't responded as quickly as usual is because I am back at work full-time now (man, summer vacation went fast!) The lack of response certainly had nothing to do with the content or tone of your comment, but I do appreciate your apology for your tone, and respect you for it. I'd never want you to feel you needed to apologize for your ideas, though. You've provided me with much balance and the occasional "talking down" in our time here at MP, and I respect your views as a fellow politblogger, so no worries there.

You were concerned with supporters getting involved and engaged like we were during the campaign. I pride myself on not being simply an "armchair wonk," but on teaching my children, through my actions, how to be an active citizen. Before I wrote the previous post, I had called the offices of all my district's representatives (state and federal) and asked about the public plan. All I got was evasion, no direct answers, a lot of hedging of bets...and a bigger long distance bill. I tried to get through to The White House, and got a busy signal all day. When I tried one last time before I posted Monday night, I got a very polite gal who could take my comments and that was all, (which makes sense...can't have staffers arguing policy with every wacky person calling at 10 o'clock at night PDST!) Yes, it's easy to see why even those of us who do their due diligence are frustrated.

All I really wanted to hear was someone - a senator, a congresssman, anyone, really, tell me that the President hadn't given up on the public option. But no one would speak plainly and say, yes, it's off or no, it's still on. Very frustrating - and this goes to what you said, Annette, about Congress...we agree in totality regarding these folks getting up off their asses and doing something to push forward a Democratic agenda. So we're in full agreement there, and don't get me started again on the Blue Dogs, because, Girl, you know how I get! ;)

CM, I am glad that I'm not the only one feeling this way. You sound exactly like The Hubby! We actually were getting a little on the agitated side with each other the other night, with him saying he'd had enough, almost quoting MG's comments about America the Corporate, and me saying that it was all the more reason to fight harder! ("Momma? Are you guys fighting?" "Just discussing loudly, Sweetie...politics." "Oh, that makes sense.") And MG, no'd take a lot more than this healthcare mess to get me to stop posting, or calling, emailing, visiting the reps offices locally, etc. I want great things for our country and can't stop until we get there. But it is all very infuriating, as you could all tell from my original post.

The Hubby and I met at work many moons ago. He says, rather politely, God love him, that I "have a strong leadership style." He's a kind-hearted man who loves me. As I am a woman who knows what she wants, some less enlightened folk might call me a bitch...But I tend to want to tackle issues head-on and get them done. I am fond of the LBJ-style, Trumanesque, take-charge-buck-stops-here approach. And that has a big effect on how I see the President's approach. I agree with Jen, in that if we are going to hang our hat on something, I want to see us attack full-on. I want a full-court press, with direct attacks on the opposition. I want to hear the words, "That's an out-and-out lie!" come out of his mouth. Part of that press does need to be, as Annette said so astutely, that the "We The People" portion needs to be as adamant and as energized as we were during the campaign to push this thing through. You and I agree on that, Annette. But we've been to all our local reps' offices (my kids know that's what summer vacation is for!), and continued to support the grassroots organizations that keep pushing for healthcare reform, and emailing and posting. We're doing all that is in our power in the Politico household. I hope others are as well.

While we're on the topic, those visits to the local offices were informative. I came to talk about healthcare and the need for a public option, as well as the California budget and its negative effects on my students. In every Democrats office, they were welcoming and friendly, nice to my kids (goes a long ways!), great about the budget complaints but unclear on the public option. However at Elton Gallegly's office, (Republican Congressman and a horse's ass, for the record!), the staffer was rude and dismissive, treating me with a condescending attitude, a real, "Oh, you poor, ignorant, gullible fool!" type of thing...not surprising, but still disappointing. When I said that working families are struggling to pay their health insurance premiums, the staffer glanced at my children, and snarked, "Well, you don't even work outside the home, do you?" Jesus. Did I have to take a breath and count to ten on that one. Thankfully, my kids' presence helped me to keep from eviscerating the idiot and retain a demeanor of professionalism, as I stated my professional calling. Which did, however, give me a great segueway into the "How can you balance the budget on the backs of schoolchildren?" portion of the festivities. Man, did that putz walk right into that one! Ah, but I digress...

MG, you and I have spoken before about how much the middle class can bear, as it shrinks and the rich become richer and poor become poorer. This is a golden opportunity, and as you said, the chance of a lifetime. It has to get done this time, and done right. Tonight, I have heard that the bill may get broken into several parts. It may be a good strategy, as we can push the public option, which is now most definitely on the table and allow for some victories to be had in a timely fashion. (Hooray for Weiner and Co. for stepping up and drawing the proverbial line in the sand! See, liberals can raise a little hell if we wanna!) This strategy may work. It may even point out blatantly, point by point, that the GOP really don't support healthcare reform. "How about this?" "Nope." "Now, how about this?" "No." "And this?" "Nope." And so on, over and over, until the American people can see The Party of Nope" for what they really are - naysayers! (Loved TRMS' "Pizza Analogy" - perfect!) And we get some bills passed through various means and make forward progress.

Part of the perception of the President's approach may be the fact that he has a very young staff. The bombardment from the Right was very old-school, in true swiftboating style. The President's staffers are all so young (okay, I'm old, I know, but still, they look like kids!!!) and have campaign experience, but less experience in the governance end of things. Maybe part of the issue is that they're still getting their "sea legs," so to speak. Maybe they're learning that they can't just strive for bipartisanship and hope to stay above the fray. Obama's out this week stumping for health care, which is great, Annette, I don't discredit those efforts. I just wish it'd happened sooner, and more of his surrogates were sent out. This would be one of those opportunities to utilize our resources as a party: get Bill Clinton out among the people, doing what he does best: talking it up, listening to people's stories, and telling them how vital it is to get this through, etc. I'd like to have seen the last televised Q & A done instead in front of both Houses, on The Hill, in a State of The Union style televised address. Forget the Q & A, press conference setting, and the speech that fell flat. He seemed tired, beat down, defeated. I love that he can speak extemporaneously, especially after the Shrub, but his strength is oratory. Use it and use it well! Stand in front of the full Congress, in the Capitol, and look presidential. Strictly use the opportunity to spell out what the bill is and isn't, put forth the necessity of it, dismiss the lies, and deliver a classic Obama inspirational address in a setting that can only be seen as strong, presidential and patriotic. Now, that would have been a sell. And it might get more of his supporters out there to really campaign again, this time for health care. That would have been a mobilizer. And we wouldn't have been off our game with the off-topic questions.

So, as we progress through the coming months, keep those comments coming, Kids! I always welcome healthy debate, and it's actually a good thing that we don't always see eye to eye on how we do things - that's what civil discourse is about! (And nary a pistol or automatic weapon in sight!) The main thing to remember is, that while we may disagree on the road to take, we all want to arrive at the the same destination: affordable healthcare for all Americans. Thanks again, CM, Jen, MG and yes, Annette, for your great comments. I'm glad you're around, whether you agree 100% or are "talking me down." Keep it coming!