The Big Issue: Competing Theories of Change
By Big Tent Democrat
You may not be aware of this, but some issues were discussed in last night's debate. Two issues dominated a good part of the night. The economy and health care. It used to be thought that a debate dominated by discussions of the economy and health care made for a good Clinton debate. And as I live blogged it, I thought she, yes, whupped up on Obama pretty good. And I thought one of the most important differences was the differing theories of change articulated by Obama and Clinton. But maybe my eyes and ears deceived me. So let's review the transcript on the flip.
NOTE - This thread is now closed.
On the critical question of how to effect change, I found these statements particularly noteworthy. From Obama:
The question people are going to have to ask is: How do we get it done? And it is my strong belief that the changes are only going to come about if we're able to form a working coalition for change. Because people who were benefiting from the current tax code are going to resist. The special interests and lobbyists are going to resist.
And I think it has to be a priority for whoever the next president is to be able to overcome the dominance of the special interests in Washington, to bring about the kinds of economic changes that I'm talking about.
A working coalition with who? This is always the nub of the question for me with Senator Obama's theory of change. Surely he does not expect cooperation from Republicans?
Obama also said:
Senator Clinton and I share a lot of policy positions. But if we can't inspire the American people to get involved in their government and if we can't inspire them to go beyond the racial divisions and the religious divisions and the regional divisions that have plagued our politics for so long, then we will continue to see the kind of gridlock and nonperformance in Washington that is resulting in families suffering in very real ways.
I'm running for president to start doing something about that suffering, and so are the people who are behind my campaign.
Is it really racial and regional divisions that block a progressive agenda on Washington? Does Obama REALLY believe that Republicans have nothing to do with it? That it will only take a Kumbaya moment to convince them that progressives are right on the issues?
Senator Clinton's statements on how to effect change just are more realistic and appealing in my opinion:
CLINTON: It is not enough to say, "Let's come together." We know we're going to have to work hard to overcome the opposition of those who do not want the changes to get to universal health care.
You know, when I proposed a universal health care plan, as did Senator Edwards, we took a big risk, because we know it's politically controversial to say we're going to cover everyone.
And you chose not to do that. You chose to put forth a health care plan that will leave out at least 15 million people. That's a big difference.
When I said we should put a moratorium on home foreclosures, basically your response was, well, that wouldn't work.
And, you know, in the last week, even President Bush has said we have to do something like that.
I just believe that we've got to look hard at the difficult challenges we face, especially after George Bush leaves the White House. The world will breathe a sigh of relief once he is gone. We all know that.
But then we've got to do the hard work of not just bringing the country together, but overcoming a lot of the entrenched opposition to the very ideas that both of us believe in, and for some of us have been fighting for, for a very long time. You know, when I took on universal health care back in '93 and '94, it was against a firestorm of special interest opposition. I was more than happy to do that, because I believe passionately in getting quality affordable health care to every American.
I don't want to leave anybody out. I see the results of leaving people out. I am tired of health insurance companies deciding who will live or die in America.. . .
This is the most profound difference between the candidates in my mind. I noted it last night during my live blog. At this point, strike that, at ANY POINT, no one has payed attention to this difference except to praise Obama to the heavens for his High Broderism. Not one Fighting Dem blog cares about this theory of change anymore.
But the question is do they really believe a President Obama will be able to wave a magic wand and make the Republicans play nice? And if not, how exactly do they expect a President Obama to achieve change?
This was the big issue of last night's debate, even though no one noticed.
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