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Change the Dang Rules! An Open Letter to Harry Reid (and Senate Dems)

November 17, 2009

Dear Senator Reid, et al:

There is a palpable sense of frustration in America today. Certainly much can be attributed to the economy, particularly the lack of jobs, but we’ll get to that in a bit. Generally speaking, there is a long history in this country of mistrust of government. Yet there are millions of us that believe deeply enough to put aside cynicism; to become involved, to give our time, money and resources to the cause of electing a government that we hope and pray will represent our wishes and deliver on our needs. I am just one of those millions, and I am a Democrat.

I desperately want you and the Democrats to be successful. I desperately want to see real change come to this country. And I desperately want it now. If Democrats can actually manage to implement the party platform and President Obama’s agenda, those polls we keep see sliding  will not just stop sliding, but reverse. Bold progress can insure a Democratic majority for the foreseeable future.

Little or no progress, and you’ll lose the enthusiastic support of your base, even more than you’re currently experiencing. Why aren’t Progressives taking to the streets in support of the Senate’s work this term? Because we worked so hard to get you that 60 vote majority, just to watch it get hi-jacked by the likes of Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh and Max Baucus. Enact true progressive legislation, or there won’t be a massive small-donor grassroots movement in 2010 or 2012. Bust through the obstructionists, not just in the GOP, but in our own party, or the balance of power in DC will shift, and soon, very soon.

It’s easy to look at the civil war within the GOP and take the lesson that we should seek to avoid the same. But that doesn’t mean cow-towing to a handful of senators and allowing them to supplant the will of the entire nation. Obviously, we need a big-honking Health Care Reform bill with a robust public option that doesn’t throw women under the bus. We also need real financial reform; substantial consumer protections; an overhaul of education; action, not rhetoric on gay rights; and ding! ding! ding! the big crowd-pleaser: another stimulus package that actually concentrates on job creation and direct aid to states. Give people more social safety nets, financial security, economic and social justice and turn this economy around. It’s a tall order, I know, and in no way possible with current rules; but manage it and we will win for generations!

You’ve got to show, not just your own base, but the entire country that government is not broken and that Congress is more than a place where great ideas go to die. People are cynical about government, and why not? Nothing ever seems to get done. I’ve never been a supporter of term limits, but I’m starting to think it’s time to break up the Senate “club”, if camaraderie and decorum among members has become more important than advancing the will of the people.

72%. That’s the latest number on the percentage of people supporting the public option. But it’s a struggle for you to get 60 votes together to even bring it to a vote? Okay, we’ll deal with Lieberman in 2012. For now it’s time to change the rules.

I know that there are concerns about what happens when the Democrats are no longer in the majority. Undoubtedly that will happen – some day. But look at the state of the nation: how can a hypothetical “some day” be more important than right now? We’ve got to seize the opportunity now, while the GOP is in disarray. Let them be the party of “No”, let us be the party of “getting things done for a change!”

51 votes can change the rules of the filibuster. There are myriad ways to make that change: get rid of it all together (not like it’s in the Constitution, after all); drop the number of votes required; require actual debate or create a new system altogether (even Lieberman, ironically, has made such a proposal in the past.) The point is, you have the power and it’s time to wield it.

Sure, there will those that scream bloody murder about tyranny, dirty tricks, etc. But the GOP has taken the use of the filibuster to not just dirty, but obscene proportions. The American people will cheer the party that fights the good fight for the people, and says ‘yes’ instead of ‘no.’ I urge you to be bold & courageous. It will pay dividends for years.

If there was ever a time to earn your tag line, it is now. Give ’em Hell, Harry!

Thank you for your time & service,

Cassandra Behrns

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. jacksmith permalink
    November 17, 2009 9:06 pm

    Urgent!! Robert Reich on your healthcare

    Why A Strong Public Option Is Essential – By jacksmith – Working Class

    Robert Reich explains the pubic option:

    Hollywood Supports The Public Option 🙂

    Beautiful HEATHER GRAHAM 🙂

    It’s not just because more than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 77% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (86% of democrats, 75% of independents, and 72% republicans). Basically everyone.

    It’s not just because according to a new AARP POLL: 86 percent of seniors want universal healthcare security for All, including 93% of Democrats, 87% of Independents, and 78% of Republicans. With 79% of seniors supporting creating a new strong Government-run public option plan, available immediately. Including 89% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 61% of Republicans, STUNNING!!

    It’s not just because it will lower cost. Because a strong public option will dramatically lower cost for everyone. And dramatically improved the quality of care everyone receives in America and around the World. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

    It’s not just because it will save trillions of dollars and prevent the needless deaths of millions more of YOU, caused by a rush to profit by the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

    It’s not just because every expert in every field, including economist, and Nobel laureates all agree that free market based healthcare systems don’t work. Never have and never will. The US has the only truly free market based healthcare system in the World. And as you all know now, IT IS A DISASTER!

    It’s not just because providing or denying medically necessary care for profit motivations is wrong. Because it is WRONG! It’s professionally, ethically, and morally REPUGNANT!, Animalistic, VILE and EVIL.


    The public option is ESSENTIAL because over 200 million of you are trapped in the forest of the wolves. Which is the forest of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! With no way out except through needless inhumane suffering, and DEATH. While the wolves tear at your flesh, and rip you limb from lib. Then feast on your lifeless bodies like a dead carcase for transplant parts.

    At the most vulnerable times of your lives (when you were sick and hurting), millions of you have had to fight and loose cruel, but heroic battles. Fighting against the big guns of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! in the forest of the wolves. All because you have no place else to go. You have no other CHOICE!

    But the PUBLIC OPTION will give you someplace safe to go. And it will give us someplace safe to take you. The public option will be your refugium (your refuge). Where the wolves cannot get at you when your down, hurting, and vulnerable. Where everyone who needs it can find rest, security, comfort and the care they need. Protected by the BIG GUNS of We The People Of The United States. THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE AND COUNTRY ON EARTH.

    This is why it is so critical that we do not lead another 50 million vulnerable, uninsured Americans into the forest of the wolves, without the protections of a Strong Government-run MEDICARE like public option. We The People Of The United States MUST NOT LET THAT HAPPEN to any more of our fellow Americans. If healthcare reform does not contain a strong MEDICARE like public option on day one. YOU MUST! KILL IT. Or you will do far more harm than good. And millions more will die needlessly. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

    To those who would continue to obstruct good and true healthcare reform for the American people, and who seek to trap millions more vulnerable Americans in the forest of the wolves. We will continue to fight you. We are prepared to wage all out war against you, and will eagerly DESTROY! you. Time…is…UP! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! No Co-op’s! No Triggers! NO INDIVIDUAL MANDATES! without a Strong MEDICARE like public option on day one.

    Healthcare reform can be the GREATEST! Accomplishment of our time and century. A time when future generations may say of us, that we were all, AMERICAS GREATEST GENERATIONS.


    I therefore call on all my fellow Americans and the peoples of the World. To join us in this fight so that we may finish becoming the better America that we aspire to be for everyone.


    I have been privileged to be witness as many of you fought, and struggled to take your first breath, and your last breath on this earth. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Life is precious.

    Whatever the cost. WE! MUST SUCCEED.

    God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings

    jacksmith – Working Class

    ATTENTION!! Congress Has The Votes Needed To Pass A Public Option – TODAY

    Things You Can Do To Help NOW!

    A majority of voters would rather have a Democrats only bill with a Public Option. Than a bipartisan bill without a Public Option.

    A state based insurance plan is NOT!! a Public Option. Nor is it a Strong, National, Medicare like Public Option.

    No Triggers!


    Krugman on heathcare (

    Senator Bernie Sanders on healthcare (

    John Garamendi on the Public Option and the Grassroots:

    Howard Dean on the Public Option

    We’re Number 37! in quality of health care

    Twitter search (#welovethenhs #NHS #hc09 #hcr #healthcar #obama #p2 #topprog #) Check it out.

  2. November 17, 2009 8:56 pm

    Well Cassandra i couldn’t agree with you again, lol I used to a cynic I never got involved kin national politics until Obama cam along. The funny thing is now i write about 1-2 letters a month to Harry Reid. 1 because hes my states senator and i have allot of local issues I’m involved in, but mostly because now because of my involvement in the environmental movement. Ive found out that politics are like nature and everything is connected. Washington is so consumed with heath care right now that other things like climate change are put on the back burner. So I find myself getting involved in heath care reform in hopes that we can move forward onto more of Obama’s agenda that are more important to me. Anyway just figured I would share my opinion.. I think we feel the same on allot of issues

    • November 17, 2009 9:45 pm

      Indeed we do. You’re right, too. Until we get HCR done, everything else is on hold. To make matters worse, if HCR doesn’t go well, the entire agenda will tank. I didn’t mention climate change legislation, did I? I’m chagrined. 😉 I’ve been crazily obsessed with HCR & women’s issues lately & have been neglecting the green issues. Hook up w/ me @ twitter & set me straight. I’ve enjoyed your blog, as well. Thx for reading!

      • November 17, 2009 9:56 pm

        yea i wrote about the relation HCR has to climate change on my blog the title is Obama plays poker with Planet. Yea your right if HCR does tank his agenda will stopped cold and thats really scary!!

  3. November 17, 2009 5:12 pm

    Hear, hear! And I was just starting to worry about you. 🙂 Glad to see you back in action. (Not counting the 200 tweets a day, of course.)

    Anywho, I think Obama got a little stuck on trying too hard to make things bi-partisan. I like him best when he’s bold, like his recent speech about doing away with “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I can’t remember ever feeling as good about a politician as I did when watching that speech.

    Let’s have more of that Obama. Maybe he can lead the way and inspire the rest of them as you suggest.

    • November 17, 2009 5:36 pm

      I had relatives around for a long visit: still possible to tweet on mobile, but much too distracting to blog. It feels good to write again, though. I’m back, baby!

  4. davisoftheapes1 permalink
    November 17, 2009 4:26 pm

    Hey Cassandra. While you’re giving Dingy Harry advice, it would go a long way towards dissipating the nation’s cynicism if Congress and Obama would agree to be subject to the same rules and regulations concerning health care reform (and everything else) that they are trying to foist on the rest of us.

    Also, if Nancy hadn’t scuttled the attempt to “post” all pending legislation online for at least 48 hours to give the public a chance to peruse it before it comes to the floor for a vote, we “might” believe that they have some semblance of concern for the constituents.

    • November 17, 2009 4:42 pm

      You want them to be subject to the same rules of HC reform as the rest of us? They would be. They already have it through their employer, but if they were to lose it, they would be eligible to buy through the exchange, if they couldn’t get it privately for some reason. Exactly what part of that is troubling you?

      So you don’t think the 48 or was it 72 hour (kept changing) requirement had anything to do w/ allowing lobbyists time to write amendments for the GOP?
      It’s Congress, not a local planning board, there’s not a provision for public comment. They were to have all of August to hold town halls & hear from constituents & then go back to DC & pursue those needs to the best of their abilities.

      You’re speaking non-sense & evasion.

  5. November 17, 2009 4:19 pm

    They should call it the “Big-Honking Health Care Reform bill with a robust public option that doesn’t throw women under the bus of 2009.” 🙂

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