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What's the Matter with Democrats?

David Sirota

Ever since Thomas Frank published his book "What's the Matter With
" Democrats have sought a political strategy to match the GOP's.
The health care bill proves they've found one.

Whereas Frank highlighted Republicans' sleight-of-hand success
portraying millionaire tax cuts as gifts to the working class,
Democrats are now preposterously selling giveaways to insurance and
pharmaceutical executives as a middle-class agenda. Same formula, same
fat cat beneficiaries, same bleating sheeple herded to the
slaughterhouse. The only difference is the Rube Goldberg contraption
that Democrats are using to tend the flock.

First, their leaders campaign on pledges to create a government
insurer (a "public option") that will compete with private health
corporations. Once elected, though, Democrats propose simply subsidizing
those corporations, which are (not coincidentally) filling Democratic
coffers. Justifying the reversal, Democrats claim the subsidies will at
least help some citizens try to
afford the private insurance they'll be forced to buy - all while
insisting Congress suddenly lacks the votes for a public option.

Despite lawmakers' refusal to hold votes verifying that assertion,
liberal groups obediently follow orders to back the bill, their
obsequious leaders fearing scorn from Democratic insiders and moneymen.
Specifically, MoveOn, unions and "progressive" non-profits threaten
retribution against lawmakers who consider voting against the bill
because it doesn't include a public option. The threats fly even though
these congresspeople would be respecting their previous public-option
ultimatums - ultimatums originally supported by many of the same groups
now demanding retreat.

Soon it's on to false choices. Democrats tell their base that any
bill is better than no bill, even one making things worse, and that if
this particular legislation doesn't pass, Republicans will win the
upcoming election - as if signing a blank check to insurance and drug
companies couldn't seal that fate. They tell everyone else that
"realistically" this is the "last chance" for reform, expecting We the
Sheeple to forget that those spewing the do-or-die warnings control the
legislative calendar and could immediately try again.

Predictably, the fear-mongering prompts left-leaning Establishment
pundits to bless the bill, giving Democratic activists
concise-yet-mindless conversation-enders for why everyone should shut up
and fall in line ("Krugman supports it!").

Such bumper-sticker mottos are then
demagogued by Democratic media bobbleheads and their sycophants, who
dishonestly imply that the bill's progressive opponents 1) secretly aim
to aid the far right and/or 2) actually hope more Americans die for lack
of health care. In the process, the legislation's sellouts are
lambasted as the exclusive fault of Republicans, not Democrats and their
congressional majorities.

Earth sufficiently scorched, President Obama then barnstorms the
country, calling the bill a victory for "ordinary working folks" over
the same corporations he is privately promising to enrich. The insurance
industry, of course, airs token
ads to buttress Obama's "victory" charade - at the same time its
lobbyists are, according to Politico, celebrating with chants of "we

By design, pro-public-option outfits like Firedoglake and the
Progressive Change Campaign Committee end up depicted as voices of the
minority, even as they champion an initiative that polls show the
majority of voters support. Meanwhile, telling questions hang: If this
represents victory over special interests, why is Politico reporting
that "drug industry lobbyists have huddled with Democratic staffers" to help pass the bill?
How is the legislation a first step to reform, as proponents argue, if
it financially and politically strengthens insurance and drug companies
opposing true change? And what prevents those companies from continuing
to increase prices?

These queries go unaddressed - and often unasked. Why? Because their
answers threaten to expose the robbery in progress, circumvent the
"What's the Matter with Kansas?" contemplation and raise the most
uncomfortable question of all:

What's the matter with Democrats?

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
David Sirota

David Sirota

David Sirota is a best-selling author whose books  "Back to Our Future" and "Hostile Takeover: How Big Money & Corruption Conquered Our Government--And How We Take It Back"  are available. He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and is a contributing writer at E-mail him at, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at

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