It is amazing how fast momentum can shift in politics. And it usually happens for reasons that could not have been predicted.
Case in point: only a month ago, the reckless shutdown of the federal government left its engineers — the tea party and the Republican Party — weakened, and the president and Democrats energized and with the wind at their back.
And beyond Washington, the people’s movement in the shutdown’s wake was energized too.
But this newly acquired momentum turned out to be far more momentary than most anticipated, myself included. In fact, it lasted only a few days. Why? Because Republicans seized the opportunity provided by the big problems with the rollout of the Affordable Health Care Act. They were all over it, with the help of compliant corporate media.
Literally, overnight the atmosphere changed for the worse. President Obama and Democrats, rather than riding a wave, found themselves on the defensive. And the Republicans’ shutdown disaster became a distant memory.
Now, if the health insurance exchanges are running smoothly by the end of the year, as they appear to be in many states, much of the furor will die out. But if they aren’t, Obamacare will be turned by the far right into a metaphor for “broken government” and the prospects of unseating Republicans in Congress and statehouses next fall will become problematic.
Which means that grumbling about the problems of the health care rollout heard in some progressive and left circles needs to give way to actively resisting the right wing’s campaign to kill Obamacare and regain the initiative leading into the midterm and 2016 elections.
With all its shortcomings, Obamacare is a step in the right direction; it extends health care – a social right – to millions who up to now have none, and partially curbs the power of the health care industry, while its defeat would set back the struggle for health care for all much longer than I would care to think. That’s why the far right is fighting it so hard!
Thus, energizing, uniting, and raising the understanding of ever more people to oppose right-wing extremism in every arena of struggle – not least of which is defense of the Affordable Health Care Act – is the order of the day.
Of critical importance in this regard is the fight against racism in its material and ideological forms. Racism was the main vehicle used to bust up the New Deal coalition and fuel the ascendancy of the right wing over the past three or more decades. By the same token, the struggle against it is at the core of building a movement with the ideological, political, and organizational capacity and unity to dislodge the right and usher in an era of deep going progressive, even radical, change.
Photo: A nurse vaccinates a child. Centers for Disease Control/Wikimedia Commons