The latest poll, from the NY Times/CBS News, shows strong support for the public option. About 65% said that they would favor a government plan like Medicare that competed with the insurance companies. This is the latest in a string of polls that show either strong support for a public plan or, at the very least, a nation evenly divided.
We have a Democratic president, sixty Democrats in the Senate, and 256 Democratic Representatives to 177 Republicans. So what is going on here? Why have we lost the public option? The initial blame, of course, goes to the Senate. I understand that the reason Democrats have such a strong majority in Congress is because there are quite a few Democrats elected from conservative states and districts and that those members of Congress are concerned about getting pegged as "liberal" and losing their seats. But, as is mentioned in that latest poll, even more Republicans support a public option than oppose it, 47-42%.
It seems to me, then, that this is a failure of messaging and also the inherent difficulty of being the party in majority. It is always much easier and much clearer to be the one to say no, as opposed to being the one introducing complex reform. It is much more difficult to explain what a public option is, which we've never seen before in America, how it will improve the lives of individual Americans, and what problems it is going to ameliorate, than it is to be the minority party and simply set up an opposition.
The Democrats did this under the Bush administration and were very effective at it. So effective that we now have a Democratic president, Senate, and House. Holding onto a majority will always be more difficult than being the opposition party.
Given all of this, I can see why Pres. Obama wants to go out and make a lot of speeches. He is a great communicator and he probably believes that he can explain and sell Democratic ideas better than anyone else. He is probably right, and judging by the poll numbers he succeeded, but it hasn't translated to votes in the Senate.
So, what is the point of all this rambling? I am once again convinced that most Senators are more interested in maintaining power than being leaders. They are afraid of new ideas and taking risks because their primary motivation is serving themselves rather than the American public. I guess I'm a little disgusted right now, and maybe this is a rambling, cranky post, but I feel like Americans are losing out on something that could make our lives better.
Hopefully we can get some leadership on the climate change issue coming up next, but I don't have high hopes at this point.