It's no secret on this blog that I was (and am) an enthusiastic Obama supporter and that I find many of the political tactics and gamesmanship techniques of the GOP to be scandalously hypocritical and corrosive.
But in the last two weeks I've received several e-mails from OFA (Obama For America) asking me to pledge volunteers hours to campaign or work for candidates who come out in favor of Health Care Reform.
The argument goes like this...the Republicans are spreading all sorts of dirty tricks and misinformation about those who come out in favor of Health Care Reform. True enough. Blue dog democrats are afraid that this will be a polarizing issue that may be used against them in elections. Therefore, if there is a groundswell of support from people saying, "Do this, and I'll promise to work for your re-election" that might embolden scared or worried Dems to do the right thing.
Um...sorry, but shouldn't it be the other way around? I vote for people who actually do what they say they will do. Do the right thing, even in the face of opposition, and I'll work for you. Don't tell me that if I pledge to work for you, you'll do the right thing.
One fundamental issue I have with the pledge drive is that it implies that if the volunteer pledges fall short, the Congressmen and Congresswomen are somehow justified in not voting for health care. This basically acknowledges what everyone already thinks: that the driving principle is always and only my own relection. Politics as usual, anyone?
I have a question about the Obama White House. Forget the Republicans, can it get tough with its own party? In issues like Lieberman's chairmanship, the Obama administration has sure looked to me like it is more concerned with preserving a coalition than actually using the coalition to advance an agenda. The GOP knows that and thus continues to patiently play the politics of obstruction--who cares if that means playing chicken with the economy or hurts those they claim to represent? But here's the thing, the moderate Dems know it too, and it is human nature to take the path of least resistance. Where's the upside of taking an unpopular position if I know that my own party isn't really going to push back at me if I refuse to do so?
Hey, OFA, you want me to work for you, then fight. Don't tell me you'll fight if I promise to have your back. I worked for you already. I canvassed in the last election. I got the word out, I offered my time for voter registration and to take people to the polls. And Obama carried North Carolina by the slimmest of margins. If you are a coach or a leader, then sometimes the biggest enemy is not the opposing team but the starter who sits on the bench and says "I refuse to play because you are drawing up a play for Tony Kukoc." If there are Dems that are worried about being unpopular by coming out for health care, don't try to appease them by asking me to work hard for them (and thereby give positive reinforcement to negative behavior), say instead: "Fine. Try winning the election without party support. We'll back a primary challenger who is willing to vote for Health Care reform." Worst case scenario, that splits the vote and a Republican wins, eating into the meaningless (because unused) majority. Best case scenario, you have a candidate who is not a weasel and, maybe, one I am willing to volunteer for.