By constantly offering to help “fix” the Affordable Care Act, the Democratic Party manages to do two things: 1: Re-enforce in the mind of Americans the false narrative that the ACA is a failure and 2: Look desperate for attention from an Administration that is ignoring it.
Why is the Democratic leadership offering to compromise with an opponent on something that opponent wants to destroy? Because that leadership is laboring under the false idea that what Americans want from their leaders is compromises of their core values. This is simply not true.
The current Democratic leadership is the inheritor of a progressive juggernaut called the New Deal, which ushered in a change of attitude regarding the relationship between the Government and the Citizens. (It also saved Capitalism from the revolutionary masses who saw it for the ravenous theft of labor it was and is, but let’s set that aside for a moment.)
The New Deal re-imagined government; rather than simply a machine of foreign policy and a national Chamber of Commerce, the New Deal proposed a federal government whose function was to provide free services for taxpaying citizens. It proposed a federal government that used tax dollars to provide jobs building and repairing a national infrastructure. It proposed economic plans like Social Security, which allowed older workers to safely leave the workforce, making way for younger workers. Most importantly, it reduced Wall Street to a mere aspect of the economy rather than the dominant factor.
And the Party that delivered all that, winning over the common people, and, in turn, controlling the House of Representatives for 65 or so out of the last 85 years, was the Democratic Party. They went on to provide Medicare, Medicaid, The National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, the Environmental Protection Agency, workplace safety, and a whole crapload of stuff that benefitted the average citizen. Not everything was a bright idea, but the basic concept of government as a service organization rather than a for-profit casino was all theirs.
Then they stopped.
The inheritors of those grand ideas took them for granted, took their majority for granted, started second-guessing the deliverables that had pulled this country through some of its most difficult times. Instead, with the election of Ronald Reagan, that new generation of Democrats stopped having new ideas. So stunned were they by the Republican victory that instead of seeing it as the traditional election of an outsider (most Presidential elections for the past century were won by those seen as outsiders) the New Democrats decided they needed to be more like Old Republicans, and treat government as a business. And they started to buy the idea that they needed to compromise on the victories of the New Deal.
This idea of compromise as a goal was promoted very effectively to the nation and the Democrats by the Republican Party when they were out of power, but never reflected the actual opinion of the citizens. Citizens want passionate advocates who can articulate the needs of those citizens for a better life for themselves and their families. Instead, the Democratic Party — accepting the idea that people don’t want advocates as much as negotiators — uninspired its base with the trifecta strategy of “Any good idea is made better if those who fundamentally oppose it are given the opportunity to poison it at birth,” “fundraising from the Rich who have hated our New Deal and Great Society programs from the start is better than having the support of the Working Class,” and of course “Hey, at least we’re not as bad as those guys.” Truly uninspired leadership.
And since then they have lost legislatures, assemblies, governorships, and Congress. They have been losing for the past 25 years on the Government is a Business/Compromise ticket.
The Democrats compromised on social spending, compromised on regulations, compromised on jobs programs, education, environmental protection, and finally when it came to bailing out those who committed fraud in our latest economic near collapse. People who had lost their homes, jobs, families may have expected little from the Republicans, but saw the Democrats accept no-fault pleas and no-fault fines given to the very people and corporations who had ruined them. They saw criminality and greed rewarded, and saw their newly elected President, with a Democratic Congressional majority, compromise when the shouts for economic justice were loudest.
And now, in the Minority, the Democrats are offering compromise to those who see them not as esteemed colleagues but as fools, losers, or traitors.
Compromise is the goal of the loser, and right now the Democratic Party is announcing loud and clear that it has no bold vision, no plan, no real alternative that makes our lives better which it is not willing to throw overboard in order to get a seat at the table of people who rightly and nightly say the Party does not have the courage or its convictions. If you are willing to compromise your convictions it means you didn’t really have any in the first place.
We, the People, want and need brave advocates, not too-smart-by-half negotiators. We need champions, not ad men. We need inspiring leaders, not obsequious toadies clambering to kiss the nearest golden ass for donations in exchange for undermining the progressive activism we demand.
So when the Democrats reach their hand out in “compromise” to the Republicans again, only to have it slapped away again, it is not a signal of their maturity, their calm assuredness, or their clear-sightedness. It is a sign of their weakness, their lack of conviction, and their wrongheaded assumption that their constituents voted for worms.