Time for a Change, Already!

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AT LENGTH--We are just over the 60-day mark of Trump’s first 100 days in office and he has yet to do anything that would make the nation or the galaxy think, “Hey, he’s making America great.”

As for his legendary deal-making prowess, his repeal-and-replace health care legislation that went down in flames speaks for itself.

There are those, however, who continue to shout the refrain, “Give him a chance.”  Clearly that’s not an option for the nearly 66 million who voted against Trump. As we’ve seen from the day of his inauguration, there are just a whole lot of Americans who are not going to just sit back and take what #45 is dishing out — at least, not without a fight.

The Democrats are finally starting to look like they have some fight left in them — from sanctuary cities to the state house, to Gov. Jerry Brown saying that Trump “doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about” on health care. OK, so now that the Dems have finally got their nerve back up, who’s actually got the lead on the resistance?

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn) on the Senate Judiciary Committee tore into Republicans for their contradictory positions on blocking President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, saying their arguments reminded him of his past life as a comedian on Saturday Night Live.

“I used to make a living identifying absurdity,” Franken said at the top of fiery remarks in the committee hearing. “I’m hearing a lot of it today.”

But even satire can’t slap some folks into governing with common sense. It will take more political craft — something that is in short supply as the Republican majority in Congress splinters between fiscal conservatives, Freedom Caucus right-wingers and GOP moderates. All the Democrats had to do was hold tight and stay loyal to core liberal values, while the Republican infighting imploded party unity. Trump is still looking for someone to blame.

The universe, it is said, abhors a vacuum, including the somewhat curious part of it known as Washington D.C. where the vacuous arguments about government seem to be spiraling dangerously out of control.

At this point, the idea that healthcare is a right and not a privilege (an idea  proposed back in 1944, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed the Second Bill of Rights), now seems to have passed its latest test of survival.

Roosevelt’s argument was that the “political rights” guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights had “proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.”

His remedy was to declare an “economic bill of rights” to guarantee these specific rights:

  • Employment, food, clothing, and leisure with enough income to support them
  • Farmers’ rights to a fair income
  • Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
  • Housing, medical care, Social Security and education

It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that these are the core issues opposed by the Tea Party Freedom Caucus and the antithesis of which the Republican Party stands.  It is curious that one of the few Democrats who has clearly taken the lead on these issues is former presidential candidate, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who continues to be the sole Independent in Congress to huddle with the Dems.

In the wake of the Republican failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, leading figures in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party — Sanders among them — are rallying behind a single-payer health insurance. These lawmakers and grassroots leaders have long believed that the problems plaguing the ACA are rooted in the original health care law’s attempt to accommodate, rather than gradually replace, the private, for-profit health insurance system.

“We have got to have the guts to take on the insurance companies and the drug companies and move forward toward a ‘Medicare For All,’ single-payer program,” said Sen. Sanders  on MSNBC’s  All In with Chris Hayes on Friday night after the vote failed. “And I’ll be introducing legislation shortly to do that.”

Sanders’ call “to have the guts … for a single-payer program” is the clarion call to action to progressive Democrats as well as old New Deal Democrats to act while the confusion in the Republican Party reigns.

For the Senate to pass this bill, they would only have to convince five moderate GOP senators to switch sides, but in the House of Representatives they’d have to find 44 — a daunting challenge. The success of this strategy comes down to whether the Dems are better at the “craft” of governance (and deal-making) to overcome the current political warfare that has ruled Washington for the past six years.

The advantage in this situation goes to the ones who have the guts, courage and a plan to lead rather than just oppose.

(James Preston Allen is the Publisher of Random Lengths News, the Los Angeles Harbor Area's only independent newspaper. He is also a guest columnist for the California Courts Monitor and is the author of "Silence Is Not Democracy - Don't listen to that man with the white cap - he might say something that you agree with!" He has been engaged in the civic affairs of CD 15 for more than 35 years. More of Allen…and other views and news at: randomlengthsnews.com.)

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