Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Health Care Reform and the Political Landscape

I'm going to cut to the case: I'm dismayed at how the White House has failed to both sell this health care reform to the American people, and deliver the change in this particular matter that the American people want. Garnering bipartisan support has not only failed but is utterly unobtainable: a continuation of the status quo is what the pharma-owned GOP and "Blue Dog" Dems want. Period.

Unless, as some have suggested, the President has been sagely playing the bipartisan card so that he can later approach the country with "Hey, I tried with these people but I'm gonna have to do it my way or the highway" I'm utterly disappointed in his lack of firm conviction on this issue. But I'm hopeful: as we all know, Chicago politics ain’t no walk in the park. And it’s inconceivable to me that someone who merely a decade ago was just an Illinois State Senator–regardless of how smart and talented they may be–would reach the highest public office without breaking a few legs, figuratively speaking. I would be utterly joyful if he ended up taking this approach. We need some of that right now.

As for the future political landscape, the power of the Hispanic vote has been much bandied about. Because of much cultural, religious and social common ground Hispanics in general should be a natural GOP constituency. But they've acted like stereotypical Dems on this one by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. As for Miami in particular–for decades home of a powerful Cuban exile community and their unwavering support of the Republican party–two things have alerted me to a shift in the political landscape there: conversations with young Hispanic residents/activists in the area confirming that an ideological transformation has been brewing, in no small part due to rising political figures of other-than-Cuban origin and the aging of the aforementioned rabid exiles; and Obama's election win in South Florida.

If their "brand"–oh, how I loathe that word in its newfangled adopted usage–hadn't been so damaged by Shrub, trotting out the brown side of the Bush family could've helped the GOP gain some ground with Hispanics. Alas, that is, thankfully, not the case. For now. The GOP is currently down on its luck across the board, but no one should ever make the foolish mistake of counting them out.

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