Democratic senator Charles Schumer has announced his intention to refuse to vote for any public option plan that does not force the public option to be handicapped in such a way that it will not compete with private insurance plans using its inherent cost advantages. The result is that tens of millions of Americans will continue to suffer from lack of insurance or underinsurance.
Some of us find convincing Jeffrey Toobin's argument that the current court has so little respect for precedent that the rule of law itself is threatened. Fortunately, more recent decisions suggest that they have begun to take their responsibilities more seriously. (Note to reader: This was written prior to the Citizens United decision).
Thank God that erroneously decided opinions can be reversed by a more enlightened Court. The legal argument that corporations are persons as referred to in the Fourteenth amendment and thus possess the rights of natural persons was not based on precedent and is incontrovertibly erroneous. The due process clause of the Fourteenth amendment clearly states that "All persons born or naturalized" in the United States are guaranteed all the rights of the Constitution. If corporations are born, then it seems that the government should be able to execute them for crimes against humanity, but this does not seem to be the case in the Incorporated States of America.
Corporate personhood has resulted in formerly illegal lobbying practices corrupting Congress and the Senate in particular. This Court must recognize the danger of discarding stare decisis, or We the People may have to call for a constitutional convention to restore the meaning of "person" under the Fourteenth amendment to its original, intuitively obvious meaning. The only other alternative is for Congress to pass such an amendment itself, which is clearly beyond the realm of the possible with this Congress.
It makes little sense to me to hold the President responsible for failing to expect more out of this Congress, when he sees passage of some form of reform as critical to his ability to advance the rest of his domestic agenda. Whether or not he is considered sufficiently progressive by Democrats, the consequences of his being replaced by an even more neoconservative President with a veto pen would be disastrous, as recent history has demonstrated.
Failure to recognize the culpability of a bought and paid for plurality in Congress would be a grave tactical error if progressives want to ever advance our cause. The only recourse is to follow the lead of Republicans and organize together to elect those Senators and Representatives who would best represent what we consider to be American principles.
While some believe that the Democratic Party can be reformed just as the Republican Party was transformed into a blatant arm of the corporatocracy, human nature suggests that true change will only come from outside the Party. It is clear that its leadership feels that cooperation with the corporate interests that now control the political process is in their own best interests. I am sure that they believe that this is the only way to represent the People against corporate power, but their actions belie their stated intentions.
Will we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people or will we simply continue to shrug and drop out of the political process in despair of the prospect of taking back our government from corporate rule? Our task is to build a movement that will take to the streets and demand that the interests of the People be given precedence to those of the corporate sponsors of campaigns for our Congressional representatives. Failure to do this would be to surrender the fight to restore democracy in America.
Rick Staggenborg, MD
Physicians for a National Health Plan
Coos Bay, OR