Strong democrats bring spring to Nevada

Yes, Sunday, March 21, was indeed a historic day for all Americans. It was a day that many Americans had often hoped for but could only imagine in their dreams, or—for some—nightmares.

March 21 was the day U.S. Democrats remembered how to legislate.

Like Sleeping Beauty suddenly awakened, House and Senate Democrats wandered the nation’s capitol in wonder, amazed at the sudden realization that unity, a simple majority, a little bit of courage in the face of verbal attacks, and some political leadership by the president could in fact produce actual policy results.

Yes, the healthcare bill is an enormous step forward for American people, including Nevadans, who currently have among the nation’s highest percentage of uninsured citizens (18 percent, compared to the nation’s 15.4 percent), of uninsured children (17 percent to 10.3 percent) and among the fastest-rising premium costs (10 percent to 7 percent). It isn’t perfect—health insurers and drug companies get huge benefits from this law—but it is a fair improvement over the status quo.

Only slightly less stunned than their Democratic colleagues, the Republicans who have ruled the congressional playground for the past decade, sputtered in cynical rage at the failure of their high-stakes gamble to make health care Obama’s “Waterloo.”

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum posted a thoughtful analysis of the damage this strategy of opposition will wreak on the GOP. Republicans walked—stomped—away from the opportunity to have any say in the shaping of the most significant piece of legislation of the century so far. “This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none. … We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.” Pursuing a strategy they thought would lead to re-election, Republicans have lost the real power that comes from governing. Frum’s most piercing analysis was of the role Fox News and other conservative media talking heads played in this defeat: by mobilizing the conservative base “with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead.”

Frum notes that the interests of conservative talk radio and television hosts are to keep their audience angry and tuned in to their programs (and the advertising that supports them), not Republican success. “If Republicans succeed—if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office—Rush’s listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.” In a Tuesday interview with ABC’s Terry Moran, Frum said “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we’re discovering we work for Fox. … The thing that sustains a strong Fox network is the thing that undermines a strong Republican party.” And, I would say, a strong America.

Frum’s is a voice crying in the wilderness. Despite the benefits this bill will bring to us citizens of Nevada, our Governor Gibbons “ordered” Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to join 14 other states in suing the federal government. I keep waiting for that day when Republicans recognize that, in Obama’s election and the collapse of the de-regulated hypercapitalist market, history has delivered a killing blow to their most cherished policy ideas, and so it is time for new ones. Wait on.

Meanwhile, now that Democrats have rediscovered their spine, there is much work to be done. We need a really effective jobs bill, we need to clear the way for renewable energy and sustainable community development, and we need to educate our children again. Hey—it’s spring. Anything seems possible after this very long winter of discontent.