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March Madness, DC Style

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Well, Georgetown has already choked again, but it's still a pretty big weekend here in the nation's capitol. With 100,000 plus marching for immigration reform and the big House health care vote tomorrow, there's definitely some stuff going on here.

One of the things I do love is that our side is really getting into the idea that this is a battle, that you don't win progress by just making some calls to congress, finding the money for a few TV ads, and cutting some insider deals: you have to fight for it. Let me take this opportunity to once again pull out the best quote of all time (if you read me regularly, you've probably seen this one before):

If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation...want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.... Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

People are finally getting that. So thousands showed up where the insurance industry was meeting a couple of weeks ago to disrupt their meeting, and scores risked arrest. 100,000 are showing up this weekend to demand that politicians finally address the twisted up system that constitutes our immigration policy. Thousands more will be demonstrating on Wall Street in April and K Street in May to protest the big banks wrecking our economy. And on the health care vote, primaries are being launched; a 3rd party campaign in New York on the Working Families party line is being planned; labor endorsements are being pulled from the no votes; the Steelworkers are running robo calls against Jason Altmire, the Pittsburgh area congressman who announced his no vote yesterday, and local demonstrators are doing sit-ins in his offices.

You know, for all the compromises we have had to make, for all the serious flaws in this bill we will have to fix in the coming years, I think most of the progressive community has begun to come to the common understanding that the stakes are too high to say no to this moment. I understand why not all progressives have decided to support this bill, and respect that decision -- a lot of these compromises have been really difficult to take. But if we get this done tomorrow, for the first time health care coverage will be considered a right. There will be limits on health insurance companies power -- not as many as there should be, but clear limits with the chance to roll their back their power some more. And we will, for the first time since the 1960s, have passed really big, important legislation that moves in the direction and philosophy of progress and helping people.

That's why such hard ball is being played by progressive groups and activists. That's why the entire progressive caucus in the House, and progressives like Bernie Sanders in the Senate, said yes in spite of the flaws in this bill. This moves the country's orientation more toward community, more toward taking care of everyone. Rather than failing one more time when this issue, or any other big issue, gets pushed forward; rather than giving up when tough things like Scott Brown winning happened, and pulling back to pass one more small reform that wouldn't do much, progressives and Democrats are uniting to push this across the finish line. Names are being taken, and asses are being kicked -- and I think health care reform will finally make it across the finish line.

We do not get all we pay for in this world, but we are certainly paying for everything we get. We have paid an incredibly heavy price to get to this moment on health care: now is not the time to falter.