It isn’t really the Massachusetts election that has me upset this morning. For the most part, when choosing an Senator or Governor, voters care about the individual candidates and local issues far more than sending any national message. Coakley sounds like a stuck-up bitch who wanted to be handed the seat on a silver platter; voters don’t like to be taken for granted. It probably didn’t help that Massachusetts already has universal health care, and a stronger version than will be (hopefully) passed by Congress (signed by Mitt Romney – think he’ll use that as an issue if Obama fails to pass anything?). If all politics is local, why would a voter there really care about that legislation? It’s a bit much to expect a people to vote for Congress based on what’s best nationally rather than locally.
And I can’t get myself to care about the loss of the 60-seat majority. That was always dependent on two Independents anyway. Now, Bernie Sanders is a Socialist, and freaking awesome, and can be counted on pretty much completely. But we all know that Joe Lieberman is a publicity hungry whore with an ax to grind against the Democrats and no conscience about doing the right thing. Any piece of legislation that had to be tailored to get his vote wasn’t going to be worth a damn anyway. And the Democrats still have 58 seats (including Sanders). 58 seats?!? You know the last time that happened? The Republicans haven’t had that many Senators since Warren G. Harding! Know the last time the Republicans matched the current Democratic count of 258 Representatives? Never! That’s right. Never! Like Jon Stewart, I need a breath.
The Republicans didn’t have anywhere near those numbers during the George W. Bush years. And we all know how much havoc the Democrats played with him…using procedural maneuvers to block legislation…not allowing anything through that they believed would harm the country…fighting tooth and nail. I mean, can you imagine if Bush had been able to pass the Patriot Act and go to war in Iraq? Well, at least the Democrats put up a good fight. Oh, wait.
But what about the filibuster? What about it? I have been following politics for a long time, and the idea that all legislation needs a filibuster-proof majority to pass is entirely new, and yet we’re all taking it for granted like it’s normal. Well it isn’t.
See that spike? That’s the 110th Congress. Gee, what happened then? THE DEMOCRATS TOOK BACK BOTH HOUSES! See the two bumps before it? I’ll bet you can’t guess who controlled Congress then. Little by little, the Republicans have been trying to use the filibuster to stop anything from getting done when they’re not in control. And after watching the masterful way George Bush manipulated the system (and the pussyish Democratic response), they decided to completely go for it this time.
Which is fine I guess, if you don’t mind essentially being a party of traitors. If you think that the job of a Congressman is not to compromise, but to hold your breath until you get what you want. If somehow you’re deluded enough to think that things are better as they are than how they could be. If you don’t believe in democracy, and care more about winning than governing.
But we all know it’s impossible to shame a Republican. And I know that it is too much to ask that the Democrats make that self-evident case to the American people. That they band together and turn back to tide by forcing the Republicans to present something they want rather than only carping about what they don’t. To shame the Republicans into either contributing or getting out of the way. But Jesus fucking Christ, why is the Democratic leadership (including Obama) not just taking control of the situation!?! Let me tell you a little story…in 2005, some Democrats decided to pretend they had balls and take this filibuster thing for a spin to stop Bush’s reactionary judges from being confirmed. The Republicans responded with outrage. They were shocked, shocked that a democratically elected President’s agenda was being hijacked in this backhanded way. Trent Lott threatened the “nuclear option”, whereby the Vice President, as President as the Senate, unilaterally stopped the filibuster. Guess what happened? Shockingly, the Democrats caved and the judges were confirmed.
It’s time for the Democrats to go nuclear, as it were. If health care isn’t passed, nothing else matters. No matter what anybody says, it’s the most important issue there is. It affects the economy and the quality of life in the U.S. like nothing else. Obama has (rightly) made it a do-or-die issue for him. It has already made it past the filibuster stage, to reconciliation, where the Senate and House cobble their versions into one bill, which only needs 50 votes to be passed. Of course, now the House Democrats are saying the Senate version is a non-starter, and the Blue-Dog Senate Democrats are saying there’s no way they’ll vote for the House version. Now, I don’t really care about this posturing…alot of it is just noise to fill up airtime on the cable channels, and to be able to go back to your constituents and say you were really against it before you were for it. But a national health care bill is closer than it ever has been, and if Democrats fuck it up this time, it’s gone for good. It’s time for Obama to unleash the hounds. Send Rahm Emmanuel down to the Hill to earn that reputation for ruthlessness. You’re a Democrat who doesn’t want to vote for health care? Have fun getting elected with no DNC support next time. There’s got to be a promising Democratic state’s attorney somewhere in your area. Threatening to join the Republicans? Go ahead – I’m guessing there’s a conservative Republican that’ll kill you in the primary anyway. Republicans trying bottle up the rest of Obama’s agenda and nominations? Here’s Joe Biden…he loooves to shoot from the hip. Time to press that big red button, Joe. Kill that motherfucking bunny.
It’s better to try to practice democracy than subvert it. It’s better to try to hear everyone’s voice than bulldoze through them. But the Republicans have decided they are just going sit on the sidelines. And they’re convincing the American people that it’s the Democrats who aren’t doing anything. What’s the worst thing that happens if the Democrats ruthlessly push their agenda through Congress? The Republicans bitch endlessly about the same things they’re bitching about anyway? You’ll actually have an agenda to run on, and if people are convinced it isn’t right course it’s better than them being convinced of it plus that you haven’t had the balls to actually see it through. And at least you’ll have done something while you had the power (which you aren’t going to lose anyway…the majority might be slimmed notably, but the Democrats will still control both houses come November 3rd…10 of 19 Democratic seats would have to switch and the Republicans would have to hold all 18 of their seats up for grabs in the Senate…40 seats would have to change hands in the House, and I don’t see Newt Gingrich walking through that door). I still have faith that Obama has enough Chicago in him to see when it’s time to go to the mattresses. But the time is now.