Us progressive insiders are failing. Only an uprising -- a real uprising, like with the SOPA bill last year -- will turn the tide and stop this bad deal that cuts Social Security.
Progressive insiders have been trying our best, doing what we do. We have reminded Democrats of all the promises they have made to not cut Social Security benefits. We have had the policy discussions about why this is a bad idea for poor and middle-class seniors and seniors-to-be. There have been full page ads in The Washington Post, and coalition meetings aplenty to coordinate lobbying strategies. There have been discussions with Democrats about why this is bad for them politically, showing them all the polls that make that point. Appeals to morality and the Democratic legacy on Social Security have been made. But as of now, it has all been for naught. The president is moving forward with his plan, Nancy Pelosi has jumped on board, and things are rolling. The way DC works, if the Republicans say yes (and they very well might, it has been their goal to cut Social Security benefits ever since it was created), this will happen. Unless the people speak out very, very loudly.
Here's how DC works: When a Democratic president decides on a policy direction, most of the Democratic insiders tend to either go along, or are very low key in their opposition. In a town built on access and power, few want to directly confront the guy in charge. And you know what? Before everyone gets all worked up about that fact, they should understand that it is the nature of DC insider-ism. It's not that all these good folks who have been working this issue are bad people or sell-outs, it is just the nature of the DC system. People's jobs are built around access, and if you make the powers that be too unhappy, you tend to lose access. Everyone here has dozens of fights ahead of them next year and the years after that, crucial fights, and they don't want to lose the influence they have. Is one fight, no matter how important, worth blowing up your relationships for the next battle, and the next, and the next? That is how folks here operate, and I don't get angry about it: it is what it is, as natural as the winter following the fall.
So what happens when a president announces a policy direction is that most insiders, even those who have been loudly opposing that direction in all they had previously been doing, soften their tone. They still oppose the policy but they are more quiet, more deferential about that opposition. I've been in rooms, including when I was representing the White House on the other side of the divide, full of people who oppose what a president just announced where very little opposition is expressed -- maybe a little bit of push back, maybe some technical questions, but nothing heavy. I've been on conference calls where senior people in institutions who oppose a president's policy are rationalizing why a president did what he did and reminding people that we have other issues to fight on.
I'm not telling you this so you will get angry at the system: like I said, it is what it is. I'm telling you this so that everyone is very clear: if you want to save Social Security from serious benefit cuts that will cause seniors to go hungry and have their utilities shut off, you have to act. You have to rise up and raise hell, because otherwise this train is going down the tracks -- it won't be stopped unless a lot of people get in the way NOW.
The Capitol Switchboard number is 202-224-3121. The White House number is 202-456-1414. You can sign a petition here. But it is going to take people doing more. Make sure your parents, grandparents, and everyone else you know does something. Talk to people at work and at church and everywhere you go. Join up with groups that are fighting the battle like MoveOn and Working America. Show up at your congressperson's office and let them know what you think. Organize a picket outside that congressional office. Do not hold anything back if you care about this issue. And maybe, just maybe, if enough of us raise some hell, this train headed down the track to cutting Social Security benefits, to taking money out of the hands of vulnerable innocents who had nothing to do with the deficits, will be forced to stop.