Last week, a friend associated with MoveOn organized a demonstration at the downtown Dover office of US Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). The Seacoast’s own Leftist Marching Band was there, adding a raucous, merry note. I decided to go spontaneously and didn’t have a sign, so quickly made one that said, “Medicare for All.” The band did a great job of getting people’s attention and making them smile. MoveOn had provided signs, which about half of the group–there may have been 25 people at the height of the demonstration–carried. The MoveOn signs promoted the savings associated with the public option. They were nice but the type wasn’t huge and it was hard for people driving by in cars to grasp what we were about. It also seemed to me that the task of those of us on the street was not to stand up for the compromise (public option) but to raise a noise about the more radical option (single-payer), which is what we really need.
This is based on the argument, articulated by Cornell West, that it took Frederick Douglass to make a great president out of Lincoln. That is, voices to the left of mainstream must be loud and persistent so that when compromise time comes (as it inevitably will) we’ll end up with something reasonable, like the public option. If we agitate for the public option, the compromise will be something to the right of that.