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The Reality of a Presidential Address

September 9, 2009

According to reports President Obama will come out in strong support for a public option in his speech, but not draw a line in the sand over it.  He will not issue a veto threat, and he’ll offer a fresh new argument for the public option. All that is good, but we have seen this act before. President Obama is one of the greatest communicators in the modern era of our government, but he is not going to be able to sway the partisan voices of the opposition party with carefully laid out words.

The President’s speech tonight will not conclude all arguments for the public option. At least it shouldn’t. We have to carry on the fight, regardless of whether the President offers outright support for the public option without demanding it be in the final bill.

We need to do what Lyndon Johnson asked Martin Luther King to do, in the fight for civil rights legislation – make President Obama stand for what we really want.  How will we do that. Here’s how:

  1. Thank every member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus for coming out in support for the public option;
  2. after you thank them. Demand that there be no triggers attached to the legislation;
  3. Call or email every member of the Democratic Caucus that has not come out full-throatedly for the public option.

We must continue to hold these elected officials to the fire of our expectations. I’m hoping that President Obama calls us all to order tonight – but I’m not holding my breath for a movement to change to be created by his speech alone.

We’ve got to get moving. The opposition has a head start on us and we need to catch up.

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