As luck would have it, my representative is House Majority Leader. He just received the following email, and will get a similar phone call later today.
Dear Majority Leader Hoyer,
The sounds of dismay coming from Democratic members of Congress in the aftermath of the Massachusetts special election are disturbing. True, that seat was the 60th vote against a filibuster. Democrats still have sizable majorities in both houses, and the nation needs this bill. Now is the time for our elected officials to show the leadership implied by their positions, not wring their hands.
Republicans have more or less had their way for over twenty years, in large part because they have shown will. I truly believe their goals are misguided and selfish, but they have shown the will to get their way. Now it’s time for the Democrats to show they, too, have will.
I understand the political realities. The bills that have been passed, especially by the Senate, do not, in my opinion, go far enough. They are still great improvements in the system that exists now. Go to your peers and ask which of them would be willing to tell a parent his child will die because the parents can’t afford insurance, or tell a child he will soon be orphaned because a nation with our wealth refuses to take care of its less fortunate. Health care is not an abstract concept. People die from its lack every day.
Many Democrats say the Massachusetts loss means it’s time to dial back their legislative ambitions. I would remind them the nation gave Democrats their substantial majorities precisely because of those ambitions. To abandon them now would be to repudiate the mandate handed you in 2008, and leave the field open for the Republicans, who are at least willing to act forcefully for what they want to do.
This can be the Democrats’ finest moment, as I truly believe health care reforms will become as popular as Social Security and Medicare, both of which Democrats enacted over Republican opposition. Speak out. Twist some arms. Use the legislative power available to the majority. Not to continue on the course we were promised is to abdicate your responsibilities, making the party not worthy of re-election. History remembers fondly those who dare.