Progressives and Public Option: This Is How Democracy Is Supposed To Work

The inclusion of the public option in Senate health-care legislation is a win for progressives. Now it's time to do the same for climate change and financial reform.

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he would submit a health care reform bill with a national public option that states could choose not to join.

This is how democracy is supposed to work. The highest ranking member of Senate was able to hear the will of America's progressive majority over the din of the insurance lobby and the right-wing noise machine, and was responsive to the majority.

But that's mere idealism. From a practical standpoint, this is how the modern progressive movement is supposed to work.

In 1993, there was no significant progressive movement putting positive pressure on the Clinton Administration. Many naively assumed having a Democratic president and Congress was enough, the hard work was done, and we could kick back with a Crystal Pepsi and let democracy work its magic.

We learned the conservative minority had many tricks up its sleeve, and was able to smear and fear to death any attempt at major progressive reform.

The election of a uniquely compelling figure in President Barack Obama threatened to bring back some of that complacency. A false notion persists in some corners that the President should be able "ram through" any legislation he likes.


Bill Scher is the executive editor of and the online writer/editor for Campaign for America's Future. He is the author of Wait! Don't Move To Canada!: A Stay-and-Fight Strategy to Win Back America, a weekly contributor to Air America Radio's The Sam Seder Show and a fellow at the Commonweal Institute.
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