No Coalition, No Coakley. Some Conan.

By Channing Kennedy Jan 20, 2010

So! Last night the Democrats lost a sure thing in Massachusetts, and a Teabagger who once posed semi-nude for Cosmo won the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat — a seat that hasn’t been Republican for most of a century — in a special election designed specifically to help preserve the Democrat’s supermajority. Health care reform is still possible, but the Democrats have instead spent most of yesterday blaming each other for this election before the polls even closed. The whole thing is pretty depressing, so let’s change the subject for a hot minute. Here’s Late Night writer Deon Cole explaining the real reason why his boss, Conan O’Brien, is facing the loss of his show. Enjoy that? Good. Back to real talk. So basically there are two camps on the Hill right now — those saying "We can’t pass HCR because we’ll never recover from a defeat," and those saying "We can’t NOT pass HCR because we’ll never recover from a defeat." To wit: Barney Frank is saying health care is done for. AFL-CIO legislative director Bill Samuel is saying that unions won’t support the Senate legislation as is, due to its many concessions to conservative Dems. And Josh Marshall at Talking Point Memo reports that the leftmost Dems are the ones doing the most infighting, but that Obama has done nothing yet to quell their fears. Neil Sinhababu at Donkeylicious lays out (in a provocatively-titled post) how the House can still pass a bill that can be improved later. Glenn Greenwald argues that ‘listening to the base’ means listening to the left, and no, that hasn’t happened yet. And Rep. Raúl Grijalva is also advocating to round up the 51 votes for reconciliation and to get the bill passed, saying: "We won [in 2008] because people were tired and they were cynical about their government, and we need to energize them and make them begin to trust that we’re doing the right thing. Just act like Democrats. Let’s go work for what we’re supposed to work for, and if we have to drag this White House with us, that’s fine." And what does this mean for the newly-minted, even-more-newly-tarnished progressive movement that put a Black man in the White House in 2008? As Afro-Netizen’s Chris Rabb said on Facebook last night, "It’s fitting that it occurred the day after MLK Day because it’s as though we never learned his most valuable lesson: King was a product of the movement, not its progenitor. We must refocus our efforts on movement-building from community to community, not candidate-recruiting election to election." If we can get outraged enough to hold NBC accountable for its late-night programming, there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t hold our elected officials accountable for legislation which, even in its current state, would make life better for millions of otherwise disenfranchised people. In other words, passing the legislation and doing the jobs that we elected them to do. We all know Democrats are going to run in ten different directions from this loss, because that’s what they do, and we should have kept that in mind, victory or otherwise. But if we let healthcare die now, you better believe it’ll be yet another three decades before we get another shot. We go into battle with the people and legislation we have, not the people and legislation we want, and it’s on us to hold them accountable, Obama included, to us. Isn’t that why we started this movement in the first place? One last note: I absolutely recommend you read Adam Serwer’s piece on the buried race politics being used by white commentators around Scott Brown’s win. Relatedly, I hope you enjoyed seeing a person of color discussing current events in the above clip, because you’re not going to see that happen outside of a comedy show. All the more reason to make your voice heard on the internet, as well as in your Congressperson’s ear. (The switchboard is (202) 224-3121, and and have find-by-zip widgets on their front pages.)