Progressives have raised almost $200,000 to support the liberals putting their shoulder into the public option. Kevin Drum calls this a "credible threat." Politicians might be craven creatures, but "it's a lot harder to vote Yes after taking a very public stand against it and then accepting a bunch of activist money based on giving your word to stand firm."
That said, this seems to me more like a credible reward, which is also a good thing. These are real liberals in safe seats. None of them are necessarily scared of this debate. A credible threat would be the same amount of money -- or maybe even a bit more -- to fund a couple of high profile primary challenges against vulnerable congressmen and senators. Chuck Grassley's evident terror in the face of his primary challenge and Arlen Specter's sudden obeisance now that he's faced with Joe Sestak's campaign have served as pretty high-profile examples that this stuff works.
Update: Kevin Drum e-mails to say I've misunderstood:
This isn't either a threat or a reward *for* the congressmen in question. My point was that this money helps make the promise to vote against any bill without PO more credible. Right now, no one believes it. Everybody thinks that, in the end, liberals will cave and vote for it regardless. But with this money in place, which is going to people on condition that they vote against any bill without PO, it makes it genuinely hard for them to turn around and and vote Yes after all. It helps turn a meaningless threat into a credible one.
August 20, 2009; 1:05 PM ET
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