By Brent Budowsky - 07/27/09 04:50 PM EDT
Groups representing Democrats, liberals, women, consumers, workers, blacks, Hispanics and reformers should ask every Democratic senator to take a public pledge not to filibuster the healthcare bill for reasons of party loyalty, sound policy and sensible governance.
House Democrats should negotiate honest concerns in good faith without shouting matches against each other or tactics that only help Republican leaders who do not support real bipartisanship.
The president and all Democrats should fully realize that great change presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan fought for and won via hard battles with high principle, great courage and intense focus.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) saved the nation, the Senate and the party from the debacle of hastily passing a healthcare bill that was written in secret, which few members understood, which might well have cut the heart from healthcare reform and set loose a civil war within the Democratic Party.
Would the Democratic Congress today have enacted the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security?
Maybe not. Today’s GOP has no statesmen such as Sen. Everett Dirksen (Ill.), a conservative Republican leader with a social conscience. Today’s Democrats feud with each other and instead of “all hands on deck” they act like “every man for himself.” No Senate Democrat should threaten or allow a Democratic president to be defeated by filibuster in a vote he wins 59-31.
House Democrats should work out differences without public invective that helps Republicans seeking to destroy the president. Democrats should not demand the Stalin-like unity Republicans often do, but there is a place for party loyalty, political courage and grace under pressure.
Perhaps Jack Kennedy’s finest hour was calling civil rights a moral duty and standing strong for civil rights and voting rights when he knew such a stand would cost him electoral votes from segregated Democratic states in 1964.
There are valid concerns from moderate GOPers, conservative Senate Democrats and their Blue Dog colleagues in the House. They should be heard and heeded when possible. But when Democrats cross the line and effectively wage war against their president, their party and a majority of their colleagues, this is darker, different and wrong.
It is ironic that some Democrats who failed to provide checks and balances during the years of Bush are willing to join Republican partisans whose obstructionism then allowed the Bush disasters to continue, and whose obstruction now is designed to destroy the Obama reforms.
Last week was a debacle for Democrats that must not be repeated. The president should reject any advice that he accept a bad bill to claim a bogus “W” on an insider scoreboard that long ago lost touch with the heart of America and the soul of the Democratic Party.
The Democrats control the presidency, the House and the Senate, and it is high time they act like it.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.