BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
That’s part of what happened in Massachusetts. The Republican candidate, and now Senator elect, Scott Brown played to people’s fear. In this case fear of the unknown. The Republican Party, for at least three decades now, has become expert at manipulating people through fear instead of hope. In this case, they created the source of fear, then used it to defeat the opponent, someone who, by all accounts, ran a poor campaign. Republicans made sure that health care legislation aiming for universal coverage (something which is already the law in Massachusetts and enjoys an 80% approval rating) became a hideously convoluted proposal. Then they started using that against Democrats. The “2000 page bill” has become the right-wing-wackos rallying cry. It does seem like a lot. But has anyone bothered to ask, or publicize, how long typical bills are? Most of those address smaller issues and are not the object of concerted partisan attack on a par with what “healthcare reform” has been subjected to. So Republicans created a bogeyman, attached it to the Dems, made it stick (= repeated the lie enough times), used their fear-mongering expertise, availed themselves of a weak candidate, and won an unprecedented victory in one of the most Democratic of states.
What next? Well, a better question is, “What else?” A deal cut by the Democratic and Republican leaders of U.S. Senate, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, respectively, would have enabled the health care bill to pass without Republicans being able to game it, offering endless amendments to stave off its passage, as they did when Bill Clinton was in office. You see, Republicans are counting on passage, so they can campaign against Democrats on the grounds of repealing “Obamacare” as they derogatorily refer to it. Please read Lawrence O’Donnell’s “Will Scott Brown Ruin Republicans’ (Secret) Plan to Pass Obamacare?”, written before the election, for the details on this ploy. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lawrence-odonnell/will-scott-brown-ruin-rep_b_426604.html). The depth of cynicism is truly galling.
So what now? Now that the Democrats have lost their so-called filibuster proof majority, the bill can’t pass the Senate. It’s only hope for passage is if the House votes for the Senate’s version of the bill with no changes. Then it goes to the president, he signs it, and we move on. But pulling this off means lots of Democratic Representatives would have to vote for legislation that is even more anathema to them then what they’ve stomached so far.
I say call the Republicans’ out on the carpet. Expose their shenanigans. Let them vote healthcare down. In fact, ditch the current bills (the House and Senate versions) and put a single payer plan out there, specifically, the gradually-age-expanding-Medicare approach (make it available to ever younger people over some length of time). Let them vote that proposal down. Some Democratic legislators well foolishly join their Republican colleagues. Let those guys go down in flames come November 2010, and use those same bonfires to cook the Republicans opposed to providing proper healthcare to everyone in the richest country in the world.
Let’s see who wins an election fought on that battlefield.
From this, we as a community with issues before the federal government should learn. The arcane rules of the legislative bodies can trip us up, badly, if we don’t learn and know them. Interestingly, Bill Paparian writes analogously in his recent piece published by Armenian Life. Adam Schiff used these parliamentary tools to our benefit, almost three years ago. But more often, they have worked to our detriment. That’s why we need to master them, not least by having strong representation. Hopefully, that will be provided someday by a legislator who is truly a child of our community.
Let’s learn and train. That day can’t be too far off.