When push comes to shove, the party almost always beats principle, as any casual observer of politics can tell you. Yielding to intense pressure from liberal bloggers and Democratic leaders, including President Obama himself – I’ll leave it to readers to decide who yields more influence in Washington – Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today announced he will be voting for the Senate healthcare bill, despite its lacking the much-ballyhooed “public option” so dear to the heart of progressive activists.
This shouldn’t be that surprising. While certainly one of the more free-thinking members of the Democratic caucus – and one of the few members of Congress to oppose all wars, not just those launched by Republicans – Kucinich, when all is said and done, is still a good party member. After all, despite the heaps of scorn heaped upon the man by smug partisans like Markos Moulitsas for his supposedly ego-maniacal runs for president, both in 2004 and 2008 he ultimately endorsed his party’s pro-war nominee, even though his views more closely align with those of the anti-war Ralph Nader, as I noted in this interview (by contrast, Republican iconoclast Ron Paul urged his supporters to vote for Nader or a number of other third-party candidates).
I think that we have to ask ourselves why we would have a circumstance where, you know, a week or two before a vote would come, that it would be said that this is going to come down to a single member of Congress, who stands for healthcare for all, Medicare for all, who stands for a public option, who stands to protect right of states, to pursue it, and yet, we should sweep all that aside in favor of a bill that gives the insurance companies a lock on health insurance in America, privatizes the health insurance—$70 billion-a-year subsidy to the insurance industry.
I mean, I have a responsibility to take a stand here on behalf of those who want a public option. There’s about thirty-four members of the Senate, at least, who have signed on to saying they support a public option. If I were to just concede right now and say, “Well, you know, whatever you want. All this pressure’s building. Just forget about it,” actually weakens every last-minute bit of negotiations that would try to improve the bill. So I think that it’s really critical to take this stand, because without it, there’s no real control over premiums. Without it, we have nothing in the bill except the privatization of our healthcare system.
Something obviously changed since Kucinich said this to Amy Goodman. It wasn’t the bill.