| I thought this Huffington Post piece by Jane Fleming Kleeb, who is a friend of mine, is worth a read.
Jane is a great youth organizer turned health care/employee free choice organizer in Nebraska (if her last name is familiar, it is because her husband Scott ran for Senate in Nebraska last year):
Recently, others in DC started attacking Senator Nelson for his stance on a public healthcare option. But, as reported in the Huffington Post, and Sunday's Lincoln Journal Star, he is keeping his mind open to supporting such a plan. Senator Nelson didn't arrive at this through arm-twisting or name-calling.
This isn't about partisanship. It is about not ignoring Republicans on the basis of the soft bigotry of low expectations.
Senator Nelson has consistently shown a willingness to listen to his constituents and vote for what is best for all Nebraskans, while his colleague, Republican Senator Johanns, has not. Yet, all we hear are the crickets chirping when it comes to the same folks in Washington who have attacked Senator Nelson, instead of Senator Johanns' lack of ideas around healthcare reform.
Nobody is asking Senator Johanns, who is against a public plan option, how he will protect the 380,000 Nebraskans already on public plans. Nobody is asking Senator Johanns why he was against continuing and expanding SCHIP, unemployment benefits and COBRA. When groups ignore these questions, Senator Johanns' "political brand" goes untarnished, when in fact it -- as with many other Republicans in red states -- it deserves a good and thorough focus.
Dennis Rehberg is marshaling opposition to healthcare reform and soon his political operation will no doubt be doing the same on energy, just as it did on the budget and the jobs stimulus bill.
Yet our Congressman largely gets a pass during this process because (yawn) Republicans are supposed to oppose Democrats. Nevermind that we might expect our elected officials to actually represent us.
If Max Baucus is ignoring his constituents by not putting single-payer on the table, what is Congressman Rehberg doing by sitting in strategy sessions to kill any healthcare reform and having Jacob Eaton, one of his key minions running an effort to scare people about "government takeovers" of healthcare?
Anyways, read Jane's entire piece. She's been doing great work in Nebraska -- from what I hear, she is a big part of the reason that Ben Nelson's tune shifted on the public option.
All of this isn't to say that people who vote wrong don't deserve criticism, but giving the people who are 80% wrong a pass and saving the fiercest vitriol for those who are 10, 20, or 40% wrong is just nuts. Obvious corollary is that since most of us disagree, we won't agree on how wrong each individual member of Congress is. You might, like Mark Tokarski, think that Jake Eaton and Denny Rehberg are more your friends than Max Baucus. I take a very different position.