Strategic Analysis of Obama on Healthcare
A few weeks ago, I wrote about SEIU and Wal Mart teaming up to support certain healthcare measures.
Politics and healthcare certainly make strange sanch@s, because this week, it was announced that no-lobbyist-in-the-White-House Obama had cut a secret deal with pharmaceutical lobbyists!?! (see the Democracy Now video with Ralph Nader below). The pharmaceuticals agreed to cut costs, but only to a certain point, ostensibly in exchange for support on the reform package. A spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down, que no?
I have been writing lately about the failed strategy of liberal politicians
The left has a bad habit of asking for what it wants. The right has mastered the art of pushing the discussion so far to the right that even extremely conservative measures seem like a good compromise. They have learned to ask for much more than they can hope for. While the fascist Rush Limbaugh has the power to extract an apology from the Chair of the RNC, most liberal politicians will bend over backward to avoid true leftists.
Ralph Nader, in the video below, goes even further and brings up some very good points. In his analysis, Obama never wanted progressive healthcare reform. I am probably one of the biggest critics of Obama that you know, but I also would rather analyze this out a little, even though I believe Nader is probably right.
Let’s start with the beginning of the healthcare package. The biggest thing that the Obama administration wanted to avoid, perhaps at all costs, was a repeat of the Clinton healthcare reform package. I don’t claim to be an expert on such, but I understand that the Clintons started their package by basically drafting legislation behind closed doors…the way that they wanted it. Eventually, the reform ended in complete failure, and these initial measures got part of the blame. History teaches us that the Clintons failed because they didn’t bother to gain much consensus before their push.
Couple this with Obama’s background as an Alinskyist community organizer, the theory which teaches that any community plan must be created through a consensus-based process. Without consensus, the community volunteers will never put forth a big enough efforts, since they have no “ownership” in the plan.
Voila, you have these touchy-feely “listen to everyone” tactics, which were commandeered by a vocal, hardcore, right-wing minority. The strategy has blown up in his face, with conservatives using the Alinsky as their playbook, according to Code Pink:
It’s so frustrating watching angry voters at town hall meetings spouting ridiculous accusations like Obama wants to euthanize the elderly and turn this country into Russia. And it’s ironic to see the right contorting leftist tactics. In a memo Rocking the Town Halls, a group called Right Principles urges its members to “Use the Alinsky playbook,” referring to Saul Alinsky, the guru of 1960s grassroots organizing whose work influenced community organizer Barack Obama.
I believe these two simple points, the Clinton failure, and his background, have lead to these town hall-consensus-type strategies, by the Obama admin. Unfortunately, they have threatened to derail any sort of progressive features in the healthcare package.
The differerence between policy reform and community organizing (C/O) is that you DON’T need a consensus to act, and you will never have it. I think that he was trying to play Community Organizer in Chief, and forgot that the “community of interests,” to use C/O talk, was much broader than he was used to and includes fascists. You have to put these reactionaries in their place when you have a chance, whether, and especially, if they don’t like it. I say this as a community organizer myself.
Obama was either ill-prepared and inexperienced for the struggle he was getting into or Nader is right-he never intended to push for progressive reform in the first place, and he just wanted a bill that had the title of Healthcare Reform.
Part of what made Obama so palatable to the white community is now also part of the problem: his political grit (or lack thereof) was not rooted in Civil Rights. In essence, he never pushed the hell out of the majority to get justice. He negotiated. He charmed. He hobnobbed. But he never pushed enough to offend people. I just don’t think that hard-nosed battles are in his blood, and he doesn’t seem to look for them.
He likely feels that he is in a position in which he has to settle, get nothing, or face a long-drawn out fight, so to avoid the fight, he cut a deal with the drug pushers. Anyway, here is Nader’s take. Listen closely to some of the alternative plans. It looks like the left is getting its act together and calling the single payer plan, “Medicare For All,” which is something many more people can understand.