If you act chicken -- you will get 'roosted'.
And you might get be-headed too.
If you lie down with dogs you get your noble ideals flea-bitten to death.
The "maybe we can work with them" -- and even its cynical second-cousin "we have to be seen to be working with them" -- endeavors of Democrats and especially of President Obama -- are meeting their inevitable denouement.
Give a vested interest an inch and it will take a hectare. (10,000 square miles for those of you who like to keep the full measure of defeats)
When American liberals and progressives get into power they act a lot different than American conservatives and reactionaries in the same position.
Conservatives and their cronies know no doubt, brook no criticism and make no accommodations with the opposition. They don't appease and try to appeal to a fictional middle-ground occupied by supposedly middle-of-the-road voters. It's "damn the torpedoes!" and "full-steam-ahead!" Wrong they may be. Dreadfully wrong. But cowards they are not.
Among the many foolish notions that are uttered in political commentary is the interpretation of polling data when the answers to a question result in approximately half the population in favor and the other half against. Conflating these two polar opinions into one -- pundits offer such tripe as "Americans want us to work together to solve this problem." Codswallop! What that poll means is that 50 percent of the nation want us to go one way -- and 50 percent want us to go the other way. Very few actually opine in favor of compromise that delivers no tangible results.
Democracy is a messy business. Partly because -- in terms of politics -- vast tranches of the population are poorly educated, ill-informed -- and (truth be told) irredeemably stupid. I may be going out on a limb here -- but I suspect that the majority of people -- especially the really stupid ones -- don't like being told that they are stupid. It's not a really good vote-getter.
And that brings me to some of the other problems.
America is saddled with a constitution that was admirable in concept in the late 18th century but which takes zero account of the present-day and the future world. A bi-cameral Congress that made total sense when conceived but has become a recipe for guaranteed gridlock. Giving the same amount of power to two Senators representing a few farmers and a lot of tumbleweeds as to two Senators representing tens of millions of people isn't representative democracy. It's unrepresentative autocracy.
Having elections every two years for House members means that the only real work that the Representatives do following being elected is start working for their immediately looming re-election. With all House votes viewed through the prism of what impact there will be on the next election campaign. That's not representative democracy either.
But there will be no changes because -- after all -- it's the Constitution! A Holy Sacrament created by people who believed in slavery and treating women as second-class citizens. No sense in tampering with the work of the immaculate Fathers...
Wait! We CAN tamper with it! It's called the Amendment Process. e.g. the 22nd Amendment -- proposed by reactionaries dismayed at what four terms of New Deal proponent FDR had done to spread democracy, stampeded the process. So since 1951, no president can serve more than two terms. Of course even if there hadn't been the 22nd Amendment -- the forces of reaction have always found ways to disrupt a perceived liberal presidency. Impeachment... Obstructionism... A patsy...
How did all this impact the politically under-seasoned Barack Obama? Making accommodations with the health insurance cartel for one. (Insert your own reference to dogs and fleas here.) Insurance is a business with only one objective. PROFIT. Nothing wrong with profit per se. As long as making profit does not tamper with people's lives. But when you permit an industry whose very purpose is to make the maximum profits for owners and share-holders to have a seat at the table of deciding what might be fair -- you have officially entered Fairyland.
Apart from failing to make the very patriotic case for Universal Healthcare ("why should Americans have worse healthcare than Albanians and Cubans?!") Obama and his team tripped up massively on the sales pitch of their much-diluted compromise.
We know that there was a battle inside the White House about all those "you can keep your policy" pronouncements
Seasoned professionals (the ones over 30) -- aware of pitfalls -- were warning that the president would be prudent to caveat his statements. To be careful not to become hostage to the ill-fortune that would come if -- surprise surprise -- opponents (including insurance companies) would whip up continuing opposition to the Affordable Care Act if it passed.
But some young whipper-snappers (all hail to the unbridled wisdom of the under-thirties!) doubtlessly whinged and whined about making sure that all soundbites were Twitter-compatible. "Keep it under 140 characters" the Twits would say. And so -- in an act of surrender to the disease of an ADD-Twittered society -- the following words were NOT uttered.
If you like your plan, you can keep it.
JUST ONE EXCEPTION. RIP-OFF POLICIES THAT IF YOU GOT REALLY SICK WOULD ACTUALLY DUMP YOU AND BANKRUPT YOU -- WHICH HAS TRAGICALLY HAPPENED TO HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TRUSTING AMERICANS -- THOSE JUNK POLICIES WILL, AT LONG LAST, BE TOTALLY EXPOSED AND OUTLAWED!
BUT THERE WILL BE DECENT FAIR POLICIES TO REPLACE THEM THAT WOULD GENUINELY PROTECT YOU IF -- GOD-FORBID -- YOU ARE EVER IN NEED.
Too long for Twitter or for an ADD-addled electorate. So those words were never uttered. Too bad.
It's that kind of chicken-ism -- that and the fear of selling and implementing REAL change we can believe in -- such as Universal Health Care -- that is undermining the progressive cause...
"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. 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." ― Frederick Douglass