Darcy Burner's Netroots Nation Keynote: 'We Have To Make Our Leaders Do The Right Thing'

I spent all day traveling yesterday, so I wasn't able to get this up, bu Darcy Burner's keynote speech at Netroots Nation on Saturday night was classi

I spent all day traveling yesterday, so I wasn't able to get this up, bu Darcy Burner's keynote speech at Netroots Nation on Saturday night was classic Darcy: concise, but compelling. Especially the heart of the speech:

So President Clinton -- how many of you were here for President Clinton's speech the other night? -- President Clinton did something very interesting in his speech. He delivered two fundamentally contradictory messages. He said, support the health-care legislation no matter what it is. That was one message he sent that he delivered quite clearly. But the other message that he delivered was that "Don't ask, don't tell" became policy even though he knew it was the wrong thing, because, he said, we didn't support him and make him do the right thing. That second message, that we have to make our leaders do the right thing was raw and true.

We can't rely on people in authority to make everything right. We have got to do the hard work of governing. It's our job as Americans. It's our obligation. And to be perfectly blunt, I consider it my obligation for Henry.

The vehicle we have for change is the people we have elected, and we have done, collectively, a tremendous job of electing people to office in this country. We have taken back the House, we have taken back the Senate, we have taken the presidency of the United States.

But that is just the beginning of the battle. There are a lot of people -- mostly not the people in this room, but a lot of people who thought that was sufficient and have stopped. We have to help the people that we have elected. And to be perfectly blunt, we have been asked to.

I have been working for the past several months with the Congressional Progressive Caucus -- eighty-three of the most progressive members of the United States House and the United States Senate -- and the message that I get from them consistently is: "We are doing everything in our power to make a difference. But we have to have the support of the grassroots. We need the grassroots helping to frame the message, we need the grassroots applying pressure."

In the health-care debate that's going down right now, the Congressional Progressive Caucus did something absolutely revolutionary in March -- which is that in March Congressman Raul Grijalva, the newly elected co-chair of the caucus, whipped the progressive members of the caucus and got enough of the members to say, "We will not support any piece of health-care legislation that doesn't include a public option."

That the progressives were able to then send a letter to President Obama and to Nancy Pelosi and to Steny Hoyer saying, "Guess what? You want health-care legislation? It isn't the Blue Dogs you need to be worrying about. You need to talk to progressives, because we are drawing the line, and we are not going to back down."

The next day I heard it being bandied about that Darcy suggested caving on the public option. As I told my friends, that wasn't what I heard. And if you watch the video, I don't think it's what you'll hear either.

[Video from Sum of Change. Mine sucked.]

About David Neiwert

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.