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Capitol Idea: Primary Danger

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The forces that propelled a political breakdown between Democrats and Republicans which rendered the notion of bipartisanship nothing more than quaint and unattainable is so complete that it has moved on and metastasized.

The phenomena fueling the disunity now has manifested within each party, wearing away at the internal cohesion of each. For proof, just listen how often the word “primary” is used as a verb. It means: to attempt to oust an official of one’s own party in favor of another of the same party who is seen as more acceptable. As in, “We’re going to primary Sen. So-and-so over her vote on immigration reform.”

Once an obscure term used only by operatives inside the Beltway, it’s now part of the regular lexicon of political activists everywhere. (As this afflicts Democrats and Republicans alike, the better angels of my nature would suggest that my GOP friends also take heed of the problem. On the other hand, my partisan impulses tell me that if the Right wants to engage in cannibalism, who am I not to pass some barbeque sauce?)

The phenomenon of “primarying” – is that even a word?? – lawmakers traditionally has been undertaken among Democrats to elect folks more to the Left, and among Republicans, those further to the Right than whoever presently is in office.

To be clear: there can be good and rational reasons for partisans to replace one lawmaker with another through a primary.

But the extent that even the threat of it has become overused in absurd ways can be illustrated by liberal blogger Markos Moulitsas’ promise to primary Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Now, no one could ever accuse Kucinich of not being liberal enough. So, try to follow this: you have one liberal vowing to defeat another.

That’s what makes Moulitsas’ threat truly bizarre in the Machiavellian thought process that led to it. He wanted to defeat Kucinich for being too liberal — specifically, because single-payer advocate Kucinich opposed President Obama’s healthcare reform plan. Moulitsas wanted Kucinich to support it.

Of course, Kucinich this week went on to do just that –- he reversed himself Wednesday and pledged to vote for the current reform plan despite nagging reservations.

Kucinich’s change of heart had nothing to do with a half-baked, empty threat by a blogger and everything to do with the sit-down the Ohio Democrat had with the leader of the free world.

And it was what Kucinich said Wednesday in announcing his decision. Not so much his vows to keep fighting for single-payer, or anything having to do with healthcare itself for that matter.

Kucinich hit the real crux of the problem, which takes us not to policy reform of any kind but rather to those malignant forces that are splintering us into ever-more-isolated islands politically.

“The fear that this legislation has engendered has deep roots, not in foreign ideology but in a lack of confidence, a timidity, mistrust and fear which post 911 America has been unable to shake,” Kucinich says.

“This fear has so infected our politics, our economics and our international relations that as a nation we are losing sight of the expanded vision, the electrifying potential we caught a glimpse of with the election of Barack Obama,” he adds. “The transformational potential of his presidency, and of ourselves, can still be courageously summoned in ways that will reconnect America to our hopes for expanded opportunities for jobs, housing, education, peace, and yes, health care.”

That Kucinich's progressive credentials are unassailable and his single-payer bona fides are beyond dispute give his words their weight. This is no politician spewing so much double-talk to hide a flip-flop.

To the contrary, Kucinich speaks the truth.

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About Scott Nance

  • Baronius

    I have long maintained that we need more choices in primary elections. A liberal shouldn’t have to vote for a Republican candidate in order to get rid of Kucinich (if that’s his goal).

    A lot of bloggers talk about the need for third parties in America. Many countries have multiple parties and, if no candidate clearly wins, a runoff. But we have that opportunity every time. The blue dog, progressive, and environmentalist candidates (for example) shoot it out for the Democratic nomination, while the moderate, libertarian, and social conservative slug it out over the GOP nomination. The general election is the runoff between them.

    We’ve seen a lot of activity already this year in primaries. There was a big battle for the GOP nomination in the Texas governor’s race. Rubio and Crist have gained national attention. The prospect of a primary challenge drove Specter (back) to the Democratic Party. This year, Republicans are tripping over each other to get in line to challenge Democrats. If the Dems are smart, they’d encourage primary battles in their party so that they’re not forced to run a candidate who voted for the health care bill in November.

  • I think we need to take it a step further. Under the current system each party has its own primary. The process virtually shuts out the notion of a robust third party or more. First order of business should be a national primary day for the Presidency. The convention process is of no further use to us and as such should be obliterated. We should have a national primary held on the 2nd Tuesday following Labor Day. If a candidate has not received 50% + 1, then runoff in November between the top two. The same goes for Congressional elections. It’s time to redistribute the political wealth. We must evolve into a nonpartisan elections process which affords every American, regardless of societal status, the opportunity to run for office and FINALLY represent those who elect them.

  • Baronius

    Silas, I completely disagree for the reasons I stated. I support the two-party system.

  • I understand where you’re coming from, Baronius, I just don’t think the two party system is working for us any longer. We’ve allowed elected officials to dictate the parameters within which we elect them. Dangerous. Just as Communism and Socialism do not work, the same can be said for our present Capitalist system. It’s completely broken. We need a political revolution which includes creating a hybrid capitalist system.

  • Baronius

    Silas, you jumped from talking about election reform to economic reform. I know you see the political system as tainted with money, but capitalism doesn’t require a third-party movement, and a third-party movement doesn’t require capitalism.

  • Election and economic reform go hand in hand, Baronius. Here’s the reality – we are NOT a Capitalist country. Big industry and politics are operating in a marriage which benefits no one but them. Former Louisiana Congressman Billy Tauzin has earned $4.4 million in lobbyist wages advocating for the pharmaceutical industry. Though he may be “stepping down” does he really need to worry about sustaining his lifestyle any longer? No – he got an economic stimulus package designed just for him.

    The system is tainted with money. And it is money which is extracted from every single purchase each consumer makes in this country. That’s fact. The cost of health care is out of control due to the money that changes hands in Washington. That’s fact. Members of Congress who “retire” end up on K Street lobbying for the special interests who once funded their own campaigns. That’s fact.

    We have employees in Federal agencies who are so afraid of making a decision which may piss off a Committee Chairman that it is in complete gridlock. The super large corporations have the money and the personnel to have successfully paralyzed Washington. We are at the precipice of being an oligarchy.

    And, mind you, this is not only about reform in the United States any longer. It must become a global effort where all four corners of this planet are sharing the same opportunities and rights while still maintaining our respective cultures.

  • Silas,

    I’m so sorry that I missed you again! I fell asleep…:( 11:00 is too late for me.

  • No problem, Jeannie. It was a quiet night which is probably good for me considering I went live five minutes after getting back from dinner in the Back Bay and three glasses of wine. LOL. That’s the most wine I’ve had in years!

    Congratulations on your impending health care passage this weekend. Your persistence is admirable. I hope you gain the same fever with election reform.

  • Arch Conservative

    “The transformational potential of his presidency, and of ourselves, can still be courageously summoned in ways that will reconnect America to our hopes for expanded opportunities for jobs, housing, education, peace, and yes, health care.”

    That Kucinich would say that about Obama at this stage in the game lets us know all we need to know about him. I believe the term is “crazier than a shithouse rat.”

    Obama is the most arrogant, self centered president this nation has ever known and he doesn’t give a damn about what the people want, only his agenda.

    Most, even many that vorted for him, have long ago grown weary of being told they’re too stupid to understand the genius that is Barack Obama and that they should just abide by his will because “he won the election.”

    Not that the GOP is all that much better but if they can at least throw a monkey wrench into the plans of this megalomaniac if for no other other reason than purely political motivation, then we’ll all be better off.

    Obama is bad news all around and Kucinich should stick to what he knows best, fighting wars against the Klingons.

  • There is absolutely NOTHING arrogant about Barack Obama. Obama has selflessly put his entire administration on the line in his dogged support for Health Care Reform. He understood from the get go that it had the potential for being unpopular, especially in light of the all too typical lying and fear mongering that Republicans apply to anything they oppose. To them, any means is justified by their own arrogance in believing that only they have the correct vision.

    Obama understood that to do anything less than push this legislation to the enth degree would doom the country to the status quo for what would likely be another generation or longer.

    Determination is often taken as arrogance.
    There are those, unfortunately who refuse to recognize that.


  • Clavos

    There is absolutely NOTHING arrogant about Barack Obama.

    Oh, please, B-tone.

    The very doggedness and determination of which you speak — his determination to push through the legislation in the face of significant opposition from the people, is the absolute epitome of arrogance.

  • There is absolutely NOTHING arrogant about Barack Obama.

    Baritone, if I had time, I’d fall off my chair laughing at this assertion. As it is I have to hurry to catch a bus to attempt to guard against the Arab terrorism your arrogant chief executive protects with his Jew-hatred.

    See you later!

  • “There is absolutely NOTHING arrogant about Barack Obama.“- Baritone

    Their just jealous, B!

    : )Good morning BC

  • Scott,

    This fear has so infected our politics, our economics and our international relations that as a nation we are losing sight of the expanded vision.

    In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt promised universal health care to this nation,here it is now 20010 and we are still not there; this bill will be our stepping-stone to that goal.

    remember what that other Roosevelt said about fear

    “I AM certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

    I’m sorry I didn’t read your article until just now, I have been too preoccupied… I’ll digg it.

    : )Yay!

  • “The very doggedness and determination of which you speak — his determination to push through the legislation in the face of significant opposition from the people, is the absolute epitome of arrogance.

    No Clav, it is not. Entirely forgotten in all this clamor is that there is a large portion of the American people who DO want this legislation to pass. It is those people for whom Obama is working. To listen to the Republicans you’d think that ALL Americans opposed the reform bill. It’s just not true. It is only the opposition who see Obama as arrogant.


  • In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt promised universal health care to this nation,here it is now 2010 and we are still not there; this bill will be our stepping-stone to that goal.


  • They have the votes! That says it all.

    Morning, B and Clavos : )

  • Yes, Jeannie, let’s get it over and done with. And then, come November 2010 and 2012, we shall know where the people stand. As Mark commented on the other thread, that’s the only poll that counts. (Personally, I believe this bill has been compromised to begin with, but such is the state of impotence in Washington – as I will argue in my upcoming article.)

    There is besides another reason why the passage is imperative. Not being able to pull it out would cripple the remainder of the Obama presidency.

    Of course, many patriots would want nothing better.

  • Yes, Roger, let’s get it over and done with. And then, come November 2010 and 2012, we shall know where the people stand. As Mark commented on the other thread, that’s the only poll that counts. (Personally, I believe this bill has been compromised to begin with, but such is the state of impotence in Washington – as I will argue in my upcoming article.)

    : * )I can’t wait! What’s it called?

  • Ain’t saying. It’s now in the editors’ hands.

  • Arch Conservative

    There is absolutely NOTHING arrogant about Barack Obama.

    It’s only March Btone…..plenty of time to utter purely idiotic remarks. You wouldn’t wanna blow your load all at once now would you?

    Barack Obama is to arrogance what Monet is to Impressionism.

    Seriously, what you said could be the single dumbest thing I’ve ever heard on BC.

  • Freedom of speech, isn’t it wonderful?

  • Nils Florman

    Entirely forgotten in all this clamor is that there is a large portion of the American people who DO want this legislation to pass.

    Not forgotten at all, B-tone. It is to them that obama is pandering. My point, hiowever, is that a larger portion of Americans (according to the vast majority of current polls) do NOT want this execrable “bill” passed, though many (if not most) of us DO acknowledge there are problems, and DO want some elements of reform to be put in place.

    But total takeover by the government? The same people who can’t deliver the mail without losing billions of dollars? No, thanks.

  • Arch Conservative

    Obama is so not arrogant that the media has been citing Democrats for the peast week saying that in private consultations Obama has been stressing to them that “the fate of his presidency” is on the line….not that “the fate of the health of the American people” is on the line.

    Obama is an arrogant prick. Not to see this is to be blind to what is obvious.

    “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

    -Isoroku Yamamoto

    Nils is correct. The opposition to this plan is much larger and much fiercer than the support for it. The Democrats are playing fire. They’ve already past the point of no return and will pay dearly regardless of what happens next.

    Prior to this past week I’d have said there’s no way the Dems would lose Congress in November. Now myself and many professional political pundits are singing a different tune.

    I guess we will know shortly. If it does pass, a deluge of lawsuits will immediately ensue. It’s being reported that over thirty states have already begun preparing such lawsuits geared toward challenging the constitutionality of the bill.

    So I guess all of us in the majority who opppose this horrendous power grab by the federal government under the guise of actually giving a damn have left is to look the Dems in Congress inthe eye and say “go ahead, make my day!”

  • You all all ridiculously wrong. Nils, you see it as Obama “pandering.” I see it as carrying out his campaign promise to his constituents.

    “The opposition to this plan is much larger and much fiercer than the support for it.”

    Actually, no it’s not. Well, the opposition is LOUDER and far more obnoxious. But the division between the proponents and the opposition has never been large, and recent polling is indicating the support for it is increasing. Some people are actually starting to realize just how this bill, should it pass, will be a definitive and positive beginning to meaningful reform.

    While I would have no particular objections to a “total takeover” of our health care system, this bill isn’t even close to that. It certainly does not amount to a “horrendous power grab.” Those assumptions are totally unfounded and will not be realized when this becomes law.

    I’m betting that most law suits filed will fizzle into nothing.

    As to what happens come election time, we will see. However, I also predict that all of your giddy expectations will be sourly disappointed.


  • Baronius

    President Obama has the kind of arrogance only found among Ivy League graduates, prison guards, and Second Lieutenants under the age of 22. It’s driven by a confusion between credentials and value.

  • No comment.

  • Arch Conservative

    I was going to say the he has the kind of arrogance and sense of entitlement only found in those with the last name Hilton or Lohan, Baronius.

    Keep telling yourself that the opposition isn’t really that strong and will fizzle out Btone. I bet you thought the Dems were going to win in VA, NJ and MA too huh.

    Like every good little Obamabot remaining, you’re so wrapped up in the one’s bullshit that you cannot see the Neon writing on the wall.

  • zingzing

    i just knew archie wrote to us from inside of a strip club.

  • Baronius! Listen up – you are, in Arch’s opinion, arrogant and apparently have an overblown sense of entitlement. Hmmmm.

    All you folks who believe anyone who voted for or continue support Obama are nothing more than mindless “bots” I’ll be more than happy to allow you to kiss my ass after he is sworn in for his second term.

    You all have slurped up your own brand of Kool Aid. You believe every damn thing the Reps have spewed, and you hate Obama because you confuse intelligence and style with arrogance. I can’t tell you how delighted I am to have a president who is not dumber than albatross crap.

    However, I’ll back off of my previous statement regarding Obama and arrogance. I knew full well just how you all would respond, and you didn’t disappoint. Obama IS arrogant as anyone who aspires to the presidency must be possessed by a pretty large ego. It goes with the territory. There aren’t a whole lot of current or former heads of state anywhere who can be accused of overt humility. But all of your accusations that Obama doesn’t care about the country or the people are without merit.

  • And it certainly goes for the statement that Obama’s presumed arrogance is “driven by a confusion between credentials and value.”

    How on earth can one possibly make such an assumption about a person one doesn’t know – that’s beyond me!

  • Arch Conservative

    Judging by the polls lately I;m not alone Btone.

    I don’t need a dolt like you telling me why I don’t like Obama.

    I don’t like for the same reason millions of other Americans don’t like him. He’s a lying, phony megalomaniac. He’s a narcissist of the most dangerous order. Second term? You must be smoking what Barry used to smoke. Just wait until this November and you will see what America truly thinks of Barry and the Dems. Until then you can go on enjoying your self righteouness and your ignorance.

  • I’m not at all self righteous. But what’s happening tonight is both history making and good.


  • History has been made. The die has been cast. Congratulations to those on the Left for their minor victory tonight. Congratulations to those on the Right who say they’ve been defeated but are secretly rejoicing that little has changed. America, our Congress has spoken with a collective forked tongue. Wake up and smell the stench, it’s stifling.

  • Not a minor, Silas. It was a do or die. They may have committed political suicide, but you’ve got to admire their courage – a rare occasion indeed.

    Now, we shall see the fireworks.

  • “minor victory” Really?

    Look at the history. As ugly as it was, it is, nevertheless, historical.


  • Nite, B-tone. Nite everyone, friend or foe.


    As I said, the fireworks will start tomorrow – from both ends.

  • Baronius

    Bar, I’ve been saying on this site that the President has a decent chance at reelection, especially if he runs against a “do-nothing” Republican House. That doesn’t make him smarter or less arrogant, though. As for the “bots”, all of us who follow politics have at least a little cognitive dissonance.

  • tim m, MPH, DrPH

    Republicans have done absolutely NOTHING, zero, zilch, nada positive for the American public this year (or last for that matter).
    Not ONE single republican representative voted in favor of the health care reform bill. NOT ONE! What the hell is wrong with them? I say we put through a bill (now, while dems have majority), which repeals any and all healthcare benefits/coverage for all republicans who vote against healthcare reform. Also, while we are at it, rescind TRICARE, which gives the military and their dependents virtually FREE, overly-generous healthcare coverage. Lets see what THEY think of that. For some reason or another, republicans seem to think only military personnel do anything positive in terms of contributions to the United States of America. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, the US military has actually made ALL Americans much LESS safe. Americans are now at greater risk than ever, from terrorist attacks from foreigners OR even Americans. Republicans keep stating that the US cannot afford the 900+ billion dollars for healthcare reform, yet how much has the US spent on their wars/combat activities in Iraq since 2001? = 900+ billion dollars. Appx. the same amount. So somehow, they always seem to think that waging war (usually without justification that even makes sense) is affordable, yet healthcare reform (which will actually end up saving money compared to the system we have currently in effect), is UNaffordable, even though it has a similar pricetag as the combat in Iraq (as of 2001). What a joke. To them, assisting Americans who cannot afford healthcare (millions and millions of them) is wrong, un-American, yadda yadda yadda! What rubbish! And now, that the political system in the US worked, and even though all repubs were against it, the healthcare reform bill passed (Thank God), now the same repubs are acting like children, mudslinging, name calling (like baby-killer, n_gger, etc.), throwing bricks into windows of democratic reps, death threats, etc. Shows how much maturing this group of pathetic people has to do yet.
    Good job, Obama, (and most dems), for getting done what many presidents and administrations could not do, and what most Americans want, need, and deserve…the HUMAN RIGHT of universal healthcare coverage!

  • tim m, MPH, DrPH

    BTW, I live half of each year in USA, and half of each year in the EU (Belgium). I love how so many neo-con republicans tout the healthcare reform as being socialistic, or will make the US government into a socialistic one. Obviously, those same people have no clue what socialism is. In the EU, I have 100% FREE healthcare coverage, which is universal. It is NOT only for those who can afford it, those who know the right people, etc. as in the USA. In the EU, it is a true, single-payer healthcare system that provides free, universal coverage to ALL constituents. In the EU, when I see the doctor, it is free. When I go the the pharmacy and get my medications for free. (The same meds in USA cost me $3,000 each month out of pocket!!) Here, if I get sick, injured, have a physical, lab tests, or even psychiatric or drug treatment services (God forbid), it is also totally free. Yes, we have to wait in lines, but we wait just as long here as I had to in the USA for any medical treatment. The treatment here is just as good, and often better than the quality I recieve when I live in the US. When I was in the US, I lost my medical insurance when I quit my job when I moved closer to my family to help take care of a sick relative (who had totally inadequate healthcare services). I tried to sign up for COBRA to continue my health coverage, albeit at a very high premium. My former work, being a religious-affiliated hospital, said that the law does require COBRA extensions, BUT religious-based health care facilities (ME) did NOT have to offer COBRA, and they did NOT have it, so I lost my health coverage. Me, the same person who spent 15+ years helping to save the lives of so many other people, no longer had medical insurance (doesn’t the US have a wonderful system)!!? I was denied medicare/caid because I was not “poor enough”. Yet, I could not afford the 800$ per month premium for even basic medical coverage. And my pre-existing condition made sure that most companies would not even offer me high-cost, priately purchased medical care. (Now we are seeing the beauty of American at its best). So thankfully, Obama (Nobel Peace Prize Winner, btw), and the glorius democrats have done something historic…created and passed the heatlh care reform bill. So now, finally, I can see light at the end of the tunnel, as well as millions and millions of other hard-working Americans that also contribute to this country (USA). Now, I no longer have to fly to Europe whenever I need serious medical procedures or expensive medications, etc.
    What do US Republicans want to do? They want to…

    1. Prevent children with pre-existing conditions from gaining healthcare coverage.
    2. Keep allowing insurance companies to deny adults insurance if they have pre-existing conditions.
    3. They want to keep allowing the very rich health insurance companies to keep limiting the yearly, and lifetime dollar amounts of coverage you have on your policy that you PAY FOR.
    4. Keep allowing big insurance Co’s to spend more on administration, bonuses, etc. than they spend on actual medcial care of their customers.
    5. Keep Americans from having more oversight of the spending of the big insurance companies.
    6. Prevent senior citizens, whose drug coverage is limited/denied b/c of the “donut-hole”, from being able to afford their medications they desperately need.
    7. PREVENT small businesses from affording to extend medical insurance to their workers.
    8. Make health insurance UNaffordable to Americans.
    9. Allow insurance companies to KEEP dropping you from coverage if you get “too sick”.
    10. Allow medicare benefits to be cut/curtailed by big insurance companies.

    Some republicans say that they want to make their own version of insurance “reform”. Well, they have had their chances time and time again,through the many years, and they simply did NOTHING. And even if they DID want to support a new bill, you can bet it would continue to allow the big insurance companies to deny coverage, as they always do, and cut benefits, limit coverage, and increase costs as they always have. Everyone knows the current system is going broke, and provides poor quality healthcare. The US spends more than any other country in the world on healthcare, yet it ranks very far from the top of lists with regards to quality of healthcare. Not tto mention, our sytem leaves MILLIONS totally without insurance coverage at all. So what do these people do without coverage? They clog up ERs to get their general care, which slows down care for those who truly have emergencies. They also wait until small medical problems become big ones, so a simple infection, which could have been treated easily for a couple hundred dollars will now cost many thousands of dollars b/c the person now has a full blown sepsis, or other serious probs.
    Those who lack psychiatric coverage, who would get by in society very well when they are on their anti-psychotic meds like Haloperidol (Haldol), don’t get insurance to cover it or their Dr. visits, so these people end up in a revolving door in jail,out of jail,again and again simply b/c they did not have their meds, and end up doing crazy things. This ends up costing the TAXPAYERS hunrdeds and even thousands of times the cost that it would have simply to give them preventative medication/healthcare. (through cost of incarceration, court, etc.)
    The current system the US has now obviously has faild American society, big time. Sure, some people are covered, and get quality healthcare, but heatlhcare is a HUMAN RIGHT! And our founding forefathers would be appauled with our country if they knew that so many millions were treated such. “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”. Remember that? And most republicans in the US are Christian. “Love thy neighbor”. “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” And what would Jesus do? Or what if Jesus was the person in the street, begging for help, sick and in need of medical care. Would you ignore him, as so many Americans simply ignore the sick, dying, and poor, who so badly need medical care themselves? I would hope not. So many lost hope that the US would ever be able to have real medical care reform legislation pass, yet it actually happened! There is hope! HOPEFULLY, the republicans won’t succeed in tearing it all down, which they already are trying to do-PATHETIC!
    There is HOPE!