Generally speaking, I'm all for "big tent-ness." If you have a big majority, you're necessarily going to have diverse interests. That's how Jimmy Madison intended it. (Ghost of Madison to Jefferson -- Did that SOB just call me... Jimmy?).
But health care is different. On this issue, the Democratic leadership should be less tolerant of "centrist" obstructionism. And the Democrats who are feeling queasy need to grow a spine and get this done. Here's why:
Every single Democrat -- every single one -- is currently enjoying the benefits of campaign promises to fix health care. The Democratic Party has made it a goal for decades to fix health care coverage in this country. The issue is intricately tied up with the "brand" in a way that few issues are. The party advantages on this issue not only helped get Obama elected, it helped the Democrats secure big majorities -- the fruits of which all of them are enjoying, including the most conservative ones.
And so now the question is -- to put it bluntly -- whether the Democratic Party is one giant fraud. Is this an issue that Democrats really care about? Is it something they're willing to fight for? Are they willing to put aside the normal idiocy of legislative sausage-making, and I-want-mine-ism? Or is it just a campaign promise they roll out in the fall to help beat Republicans so that they can go about raising money?
Josh Marshall mentions it today -- but the opportunity has never been better. If it can't be done now, it can't be done. And if it can't be done, it's not because of the GOP. It's because the Democratic Party is a fraud.
I would like to think that health care is one of the few issues that every Democrat can agree on. Regardless of whether you're a Democrat in Oklahoma or in Boston, you presumably are remaining a Democrat because you fundamentally believe that the government can play a role in helping people (particularly poorer people) get the basic human right of health care. If you don't, and if you're unwilling to ever fight for that, then honestly... why the f*** are you still a Democrat? What's the point?
This is -- and shall be -- the ultimate intra-party litmus test. And for good reason. We have a real chance at getting this done. And it would be worse than tragic if the Evan Bayhs of the world are too obsessed with money and the Chamber of Commerce to make it happen. And if they do kill it, they should be punished in every conceivable political way -- including kamikaze primaries that cost Dems the seat. Because really, if we can't do health care, what's the point of having that seat?