Friday, June 20, 2008

Taking It To The Max

I've been very interested to read Ezra's posts on Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, an oft-disappointing Senator who's crucial in reforming health care. Yglesias details how Baucus helped Bush pass his tax cuts for the rich and takes tons of money from health care and insurance interests. I remember Baucus as the only Dem to vote against giving DC a vote in Congress, on the ridiculous grounds that it would dilute Montana's voting power. But Ezra lays out some reasons for optimism that he's taking health care seriously and says in comments:

Baucus is the chair of the relevant committee for health care reform. If you care about the issue, you have to watch him closely, try to figure out what he's doing, and try to figure out what his incentives are and how to shape them.

This is one instance of a big question that I generally don't know how to answer: How do you, as an ordinary citizen, get an influential Senator from another state to do what you want? I know only two ways to push on a Senator -- direct contact through letters and phone calls, and primary challenges. The former only works if you live in the state, and the latter probably isn't feasible in the case of a red-state Democrat who works his evil magic behind closed doors in the Senate, not out in the open on cable TV like that idiot from Connecticut who got kicked out of the party in 2006.

All that comes to mind is buying BlogAds on Left in the West to explain to our Montana progressive brethren that the fate of American health care is on their shoulders, and we'll buy them all the beer they want if they organize really good letter-writing campaigns. Is that the appropriate move here?

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