Our political Quote of the Day comes from The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein, who has always been a great political analyist, including back in the days when he wrote some of the best stuff ever for the Los Angeles Times. He looks at what he says is former DNC Chairman Howard Dean’s “blind spot” on health care reform — and sheds light on why Dean and some other progressives are now calling for health care reform to be defeated:
Maybe one reason former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and so much of the digital Left can so casually dismiss the Senate health care reform bill is that they operate in an environment where so few people need to worry about access to insurance.
The 2004 presidential campaign that propelled Dean to national prominence was fueled predominantly by “wine track” Democratic activists-generally college-educated white liberals. (In the virtually all-white 2004 Iowa caucus, for instance, exit polls showed that two-thirds of Dean’s votes came from voters with a college degree.) Those are the same folks, all evidence suggests, who provide the core support for online activist groups like MoveOn.org or Dean’s Democracy for America and congregate most enthusiastically on liberal websites. (According to studies by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, college graduates are more than twice as likely as those with only a high-school degree to communicate about politics online.) Along with Dean, those digital Democratic activists are generating the loudest demands to derail the Senate bill.
Some individuals in these overlapping political networks undoubtedly face challenges with access to health care, but as a group college-educated whites are much less likely than any other segment of the population to lack health insurance.
Brownstein then supplies some stats and ends with this:
No president has ever come as close as Barack Obama is today to moving the nation toward universal health coverage; no universal coverage bill had ever before passed the House, nor has one ever advanced as far in the Senate as the bill now under debate. For Dean to insist that Senate Democrats start over after that grueling struggle is a little like suggesting that American troops on the outskirts of Berlin in 1945 should have retreated back to France because D-Day wasn’t choreographed just right.
The broad mass of college-educated white voters are an increasingly central component of the Democratic coalition. But it remains a challenge for the party to manage the expectations of that community’s most liberal segments because they tend to see politics less as a means of tangibly improving their own lives than as an opportunity to make a statement about the kind of society they want America to be. That is not a perspective that encourages compromise or pragmatism. It may be easier for Dean, and the activists cheering him on, to view the Senate bill as an affront to their values precisely because so few of their interests are directly at stake in the fierce fight over this imperfect but landmark legislation.
Read it in full.
Some observations from this independent voter:
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.