Dems Must Reconnect to Populist Soul

Democrats are afraid to say that government can do good: Frank
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2009 2:07 AM CDT
President Barack Obama leaves Sweet Life Cafe after dinner while on vacation on Martha's Vineyard in Oak Bluffs, Mass., yesterday.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – To save health care reform, Democrats need to remember what the real issue is: making the government work for average people, writes Thomas Frank for the Wall Street Journal. Health care is the Democrats' signature issue because it is quintessentially populist—a leveling of the playing field in the name of universal compassion. But this time around, they have sought to dodge the big issue of the government’s role in life with “mushy appeals to bipartisanship,” Frank writes.

And the right has filled that void—in a bizarre twist, anti-reform advocates are now the voice of popular rage, while Democrats broker deals with insurance firms, notes Frank. When Obama found himself under attack from the conservatives he sought to co-opt, he backpedaled away from the public option—the most populist element of his plan, Franks writes. The Democrats need to take a stand against Reaganism and declare, loudly, that government can do good, he urges.