By David Swanson, Prosperity Agenda
Note: Yesterday, Glenn Beck was bounced out of bestseller spot by Swanson’s book: “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” This is Swanson’s first book, on its first day of publication it ranked #1 in politics nonfiction on Amazon.com, having bumped Glenn Beck out of his long-held position. “Daybreak” is also the #1 nonfiction book in all categories on Amazon.com, and the #6 book overall, and climbing.You can purchase the book: http://tr.im/xBt3
Looking at the healthcare reform struggle through the lens of a book I’ve just written provides a dozen or so ideas as to how we could do it better. The book is called “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union,” and it came out on September 1st from Seven Stories Press and immediately knocked Glenn Beck out of first place in Amazon.com’s rankings for nonfiction books. The book discusses healthcare but focuses much more attention on how we can reform the systemic weaknesses in our representative government that deny us healthcare and many other things we want.
For decades polls have shown strong support for single-payer healthcare, and therefore certainly for a “public option” that moves us in that direction. But, as with almost every other issue, our elected representatives do not represent us.
One corrupting influence is parties. A Republican from a district that favors healthcare reform cannot support it without losing money and support and favors from the Republican Party. And Democrats who support too much reform, who want a single-payer system, agreed early on to compromise with the White House and their party’s leadership, and to ask for only a public option, regardless of whether their constituents wanted them to push for single-payer and then compromise only when necessary. In our current system, huge amounts of money and power are doled out by parties, which is why we more often have two opinions in Washington than anything closer to 535. It’s tempting to wish the Democrats had more party discipline with which to pass at least a weak healthcare bill, but don’t forget that if the Democrats had perfect party discipline there would be no opposition to wars whatsoever.
A second corrupting influence is the corporate media, which had always whited out single-payer and eagerly aired lies and distortions about the public option, moving the center of the debate somewhere to the right of that proposal. This is not — I repeat, not — because the rightwingers are smarter or wittier or more disciplined. It is primarily because the corporate media shares their agenda, no matter how sloppily or inarticulately they present it. The media companies share board members with the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, not to mention selling them advertisements. There is no more common excuse for hesitancy from progressive congress members than “But the media would attack me.”
A third corrupting influence is the money given directly to politicians and parties by insurance and drug and hospital companies. And, remember, you can add up the legal bribes given to any dozen senators from any industry and not approach what President Obama took from the same source. Presidents are not immune to this form of corruption, as should be apparent from Obama’s Cheneylike efforts to keep secret the names of visitors to the White House.
Democratic Congress members have expressed a lot of disappointment that Obama has not instructed Congress to pass a stronger bill, and has not written it for them. But Obama does not necessarily want a stronger bill than what is working its way through Congress, and he is right to allow Congress to do at least part of its job. The problem is that Congress has forgotten how and literally cannot conceive of creating legislation on its own and then forcing a president of the same party to sign or veto it.
On top of this the Democrats’ strategy of all defense all the time means that they want to keep the filibuster rule in the senate in case the Republicans come back into power, thereby almost guaranteeing that the Republican Party — which was looking near the point of collapse — will come back into power. That any senator would defend a rule that allows senators representing 12 percent of us to block all legislation by the senate and therefore the house, shows a complete lack of concern for majority rule. But, then, majority rule is what the senate was created to prevent, and we would arguably be much better off amending the Constitution to put the senate out of its misery. It take up the arguments for and against that in my book, along with several other possible reforms.
We’d be better off, I argue, shifting our spending priorities away from wars and weapons and bankers. We’d be better off ceasing to worship our government’s militarism while despising its domestic abilities. We’d be better off with a new understanding of civil and human rights that included healthcare and much else besides. We’d be better off with a reformed system of elections in which it was reasonably possible to defeat incumbents, and in which we could be reasonably confident our votes were accurately counted. This would involve eliminating dirty campaign revenue and expenses, the dirty expenses consisting primarily of the repurchase of snippets of public airwaves from corporations to which they have been given. We would be better off with formal structures that involve citizens and even public initiatives in our governing. And if we are to advance all of these goals, we will need more independent activist organizations, less reverse-democratic astroturfing, and more organized nonviolent resistance.
I throw all of these complex topics out there because I believe they are all important, and they are all addressed at much greater length in “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.”
David Swanson is the author of the new book “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union” by Seven Stories Press. You can pre-order it and find out when tour will be in your town: http://davidswanson.org/book. Arrange to review it on your blog and Seven Stories will get you a free copy. Contact crystal at sevenstories dot com.