Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Problems for Democrats

This diary/blog entry is for Democrats. Republicans can come back some other day.

I have some very bad news for Democrats: On November 4th we won. Big. We got an honest mandate from the voters. We won the Presidency by over 50% (compared to McCaint’s just over 45%). We have big majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate (okay, not Filibuster-proof, but big.) According to the AP, when asked if it was good for the country to have just the Democrats in charge of Congress and the White House, 42% said it was good, 20% said it didn’t matter, and 34% said it was bad. CNN got similar results. So 2/3 don’t care or like it. In the same AP article, 72% voiced optimism that the new President, Mr. Obama, would make the necessary changes to bring life back to our dying economy. That number includes 44% of Republican respondants.

You know what that means? Democrats don’t have any excuses anymore. Nope, none of that “The President will veto it,” no “that’s too liberal for the public,” and no “they don’t want us to do anything.” “The Republicans won’t let us do it” doesn’t work either. We have a clear mandate, clearest since Reagan got elected 28 years ago.

So all of that “We need to be bi-partisan” stuff needs to be forgotten. Why? The Republicans want to come back next Congressional term. The best way for them to do that is to make it look like we can’t get anything done. Many of you are thinking “Then we have to compromise with them!” That’s not entirely true. That attitude simply allows the Republicans to set the agenda, again.

We’ve had the majority in Congress for the last 2 years, and for that entire time we let the Republicans not only set the agenda, but have their way on everything. The Democrats were the ones who took impeachment off the table, not the Republicans. The Democrats were the ones that refused to set a timetable to get out of Iraq, not the Republicans. Why? Because we knew that Republicans wouldn’t like it if we did this. We let them set the agenda for what would be done. We let them lead.

Well, now the majority of the electorate, by a large margin, have told the Democrats that they want something done. If we let the Republicans cow us into refusing to even schedule debates on the issues then they are the ones leading the country, not us. And in the next election cycle, that is what the electorate will remember: Democrats are ineffective leaders.

So what do we do? We have a mandate to do something. With an electoral victory like the one we had, what are we waiting for? 100% of both houses, the Presidency, and all 9 seats on the Supreme Court? That’s never going to happen. We need to do what we can with what we have. We’ve been saying for a long time that we want single-payer health care. Do we? We’ve said for a long time that we need to get off of oil and onto renewable energy sources. Are we going to do that, or not? We’ve said repeatedly that we want to bring back regulations on industry, strengthen Social Security, improve the environment. Do we, or is all of that just hot-air? We’re never going to get a better chance to do any of those things than right now.

So, what of the Republicans? We don’t have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Well, if the Republicans threaten to Filibuster a bill we call them on their threat. If they do it we say that they’re standing in the way of progress. Scream it to the hills! If they don’t then they look weak. If we refuse to bring up a bill that they threaten to veto then we’re the weak ones. Being bi-partisan in what we are willing to introduce gets us nothing. If the Republicans really want to be bi-partisan, let them be. If they are willing to make compromises then they are welcome to. If they do, we can do the same. If not, damn them to Hell.

The important lesson here is that we have a choice. Let’s say that whatever we do, next Congressional election cycle we lose seats. Would you rather say that we played it safe, got nothing we wanted, and lost, or say we tried? I know which one I would like to say. Carpe diem!

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