Let’s face it: by the time someone gets elected to public office, they’ve made so many compromises in order to present an electable public image that it’s hard to get excited about any of them anymore. Wondermark’s eccentric alien Gax illustrates the problem. Yes, we were all excited about Obama and he’s doing as good a job as anyone could in the current atmosphere, but despite his refreshing level of erudition (and, increasingly, refusal to take crap), he’s no longer the rock star he seemed like during campaigns.
This is probably unavoidable. If you have to win over at least half of the population of a large and diverse country, many of whom are grumpy, have no sense of humor, and/or don’t understand irony, you have to present a pretty carefully cultivated image. One person’s hilarious joke is another person’s deep offense. By the time anyone runs for president, they’ve already had to achieve this balance in their previous races for senate or governor. But what about the House of Representatives? You only have to represent one congressional district, likely to be a little more uniform in opinion. You can run when you’re 25. Surely someone with a little more personality would be able to sneak in there?
Ladies and gentlemen: Alan Grayson. This Florida Democrat knows how to talk back. And does it ever make politics fun to watch.
Let’s face it. Health insurance companies charge as much money as possible, and they provide as little care as possible. The difference is called profit. You can’t blame them for it; that’s what a corporation does. Birds got to fly, fish got to swim, health insurers got to rip you off.
So he said while proposing a simple four-page bill introducing a public option by allowing all Americans to enroll in Medicare. Elegant, easy to understand, and completely immune to the “don’t rob Medicare to pay for socialized medicine” camp.
He unveiled the Republican healthcare plan: “Don’t get sick. And if you do get sick, die quickly.” He unleashed the power of acronyms on Dick Cheney (apparently he’s internet savvy, too). He teased Rudy Giuliani, saying that Republicans hate government so much because they’re bad at it. Republicans, naturally, have called for apologies. And he’s refused.
I feel a sense of camaraderie with a fellow snarker, particularly one who’s managed to get himself elected to public office, and one could fairly point out that snark is hardly an admirable trait. After all, Obama is turning the polite admonition into an art form. But I think that, while you wouldn’t want every member of the House of Representatives to be that way, a hard-nosed progressive snarker is exactly what Congress needs right now. Someone who will point out what needs to be pointed out, such as that Olympia Snowe (or Ben Nelson, or Joe Lieberman, or Scott Brown) is not President of the United States. Someone who can show that the party that controls both houses of Congress and the White House doesn’t need to be constantly pandering to a minority party that has, so far, always refused to work with them. Someone who, as Fred Clark called for in a recent post on Slacktivist, would have Obama’s back consistently (and be ready to go on the offensive) in the face of the constant attacks conservatives launch at him.
The difference between a rogue progressive like Grayson and a rogue conservative like Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) are marked, and they’re the reason why the former is useful and the latter is nothing but an inhibition. When Grayson doesn’t like something, he proposes a fix. In the wake of the disastrous Supreme Court ruling on corporate campaign spending, he introduced five new bills with wonderful names like the Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act and the Corporate Propaganda Sunshine Act to counteract the ruling. When Bunning doesn’t like something, he brings the Senate to a halt. And there you have it: the difference between contemporary progressives and contemporary conservatives in a nutshell.