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Long-Term Implication of the Public Option Fight

Josh Marshall ponders: “What if the version of the public option that emerged in the House (which has to be seen as the maximal version of what’s possible) is so constrained and anemic that it wouldn’t really accomplish anything anyway?”

I think this is something that policy-minded progressives understand pretty well and it’s causing a lot of folks in DC to be puzzled about why so many folks want to make their stand on this issue. To help understand, I think it’s useful to read past the sarcastic opening to this Chris Bowers post and read him lay out the strategic thinking in detail. I think what you’ll see is that while the movement on behalf of the public option certainly wants a public option and believes the public option is important, the larger goal is to “to try and make the federal government more responsive to progressives in the long-term” by engaging in a form of inside-outside organizing and legislative brinksmanship that’s aimed at enhancing the level of clout small-p progressives in general and the big-p Progressive Caucus in particular enjoy on Capitol Hill.

That requires, arguably, some tactical extremism. If you become known as the guys who are always willing to be reasonable and fold while the Blue Dogs are the guys who are happy to let the world burn unless someone kisses your ring, then in the short-term your reasonableness will let some things get done but over the long-term you’ll get squeezed out. And it also requires you to pick winnable fights, which may mean blowing the specific stakes in the fight a bit out of proportion in the service of the larger goal.

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