At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, I think it’s incredibly important for anyone even vaguely on the center-left to understand what’s at stake in this healthcare fight. Talking to an immigration reform activist a few weeks ago he described healthcare reform as the “front end of the wedge. If we can’t get that through, forget immigration reform.” That’s true for pretty much every other item on the left’s agenda. Jim DeMint was speaking the truth.

Since Washington lives on drama, and the 24 hour news cycle exacerbates that tendency, it’s very easy to lose perspective. But this letter from a reader at TPM summed up how I’m feeling pretty well:

if this country cannot pass a bill which insures that every citizen has access to medical care, which every developed country has managed to do (and got done many many years ago), there is something very fundamentally and structurally wrong with this country.

Such an event, in my mind, would confirm that we live with a completely corrupt and dysfunctional form of government. Forty nine states, each with bicameral legislative bodies, some of which have distinguished themselves recently with unabashed levels of incompetency and cluelessness. Then, graft a federal government over that, which is also bicameral, the non-representative portion of it being filled with officials who are certifiable morons and/or who are bought and sold like whores by wealthy contributors.

Talk about a Waterloo.

This is a defining moment in our history. Do we fulfill our supposed status as a “shining city on a hill” or continue our long slow decline into a second rate oligarchy?

The defining feature of this decade thus far has been elite failure and oligarchic corruption. If there’s going to be a pivot onto a new path of progress this is it.