Monday, December 28, 2009

An Open Letter To Jane Hamsher

I know some of you are like, "Who the heck is Jane Hamsher?"

And if you aren't a political junkie or an active follower of the progressive blogosphere, you may have never heard her name until last week.

She was one of the loudest progressive voices, IN OPPOSITION, to the Health Reform Bill, even going as far as appearing on Fox News to promote the killing of the Senate Bill.

Well, over the weekend a letter began circulating re: Ms. Hamsher's activities over the course of the past few weeks and it has been picked up by a number of progressives who are pretty much telling her to STOP before she becomes the new Ralph Nader.

Read the letter below and let us know what you think. Are they right or is Jane (read her response here)?

Ms. Hamsher,

It is with deep respect for the passion that you have for the progressive movement that I am writing. I understand the frustration that disappointment can foster and honor your commitment to pushing the progressive agenda.

I do not doubt that you genuinely feel that your very vocal opposition to the Senate health care bill is in the absolute interests of the American populace and progressive politics. I honestly believe that you feel that the administration has let you and other progressives down by not publically pushing harder for elements in the bill that we all hoped would survive the legislative process.

What I doubt is that your actions will ultimately serve the advancement of the progressive agenda that you obviously care so much about. I believe in fact, that quite the opposite will be the result. Pushing for the very best bill that we can get through this congress is laudable, attacking the administration for dealing with the reality that is congress is not.

The 2000 presidential election graphically demonstrates what I mean. Ralph Nader had no chance of winning, and yet he remained in the race. Mr. Nader quite correctly pointed out that in order to keep his agenda in the debate he needed to remain even if it meant Gore would lose votes to a lost cause.

Mr. Nader was absolutely right to stand up for his principals and stay in the election to make sure that his message was getting out. The point is this, if Mr. Nader had dropped out of the race that election would never have been close enough for the Supreme Court to hand to George Bush. Al Gore would have been the 43rd president of the United States and Ralph Nader would have come a lot closer to having the things he cared about realized. Mr. Nader was right, but how far back did he set his own agenda?

At the end of the day it comes down to results you don’t win by being right. It is possible to be completely right and yet damage the cause that you are advocating. As a progressive that is acutely sensitive to the extraordinary damage that was done to this country by the Bush administration I see the need for many democratic terms in which we constantly push the country towards more progressive ideals. Change does not come overnight, we don’t have the luxury of eviscerating our fragile majority for not moving quickly enough. The United States will not survive many more administrations like the last one.

Please consider the progressive agenda as a whole while in the heat of each individual battle, your voice is respected and desperately needed on our side.


R. Paine
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