Grassroots Pressure Works

This public option fight has been a loooong fight. We've all been hit with numerous requests to sign petitions, make phone calls, attend rallies, give money, etc.

In our money-laden, lobbyist-laden political system, it's easy to wonder if grassroots pressure makes a difference. And as MLK said, "Sometimes we get discouraged and sometimes disappointed with the slow pace of things."

The fight is not over. But today's New York Times had some very encouraging news for activists:

Senate Leader Takes Risk Pushing Public Insurance Plan

[L]awmakers said Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) was increasingly leaning toward the idea of including a version of a public insurance option, albeit one that would allow states to opt out of such a system, in the chamber's bill. ...

Mr. Reid's outlook was shaped, in part, by opinion polls showing public support for a government insurance plan, which would compete with private insurers. ...

"There is a growing sense that we need to lead on this issue and not wait for it to be offered on the Senate floor," a senior Democratic aide said. "The idea is that it's better to show some fight."

Hmmm. Polls are fueling a "growing sense" among Reid's crew that "its better to show some fight" than to cave quietly?

Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Stephanie Taylor immediately put out this response:

The growing sense that it is time for Majority Leader Reid to be strong and lead comes after an intense week of grassroots activism -- and the release of our new poll showing that Reid's political survival in Nevada requires strong leadership on the public option.

Thousands of people donated this week at to launch a TV ad in Nevada that asks 'if Harry Reid is strong and effective enough as a leader to pass a public health insurance option into law.'

Grassroots pressure is working, and we will continue to keep the pressure on until the insurance companies are defeated and a strong public option is passed into law.

A lot of other groups have also been keeping the pressure on Democrats for months and months: Democracy for America, MoveOn, Blue America, FDL, Credo, OpenLeft, and others. National and state bloggers -- and progressive media voices like The Huffington Post and The Young Turks -- have pushed politicians and gotten facts out there that the mass media consistently missed. And many local activists have started their own grassroots efforts to pressure their senators.

Sometimes we get discouraged. This fight has been long. It's not over yet. But it's important to take note of progress along the way and recognize that grassroots pressure works.