The election of 1994 only reinforced the strategy of no. Why help the majority pass legislation when you can stall until voters, frustrated with gridlock, throw the other side out? Once out of power, Democrats went to school on the GOP delaying tactics. – Robert Schlesinger
As I look over the Republican strategy of the last year and its impact on the electorate one thing is abundantly clear. The Republicans do not have to win at anything, because even when they lose they win according to their scorecards. The Scott Brown election in Massachusetts has been presented as this massive shift in the public’s desire for President Obama’s “changey, hopey” message. While the Scott Brown election was troubling, I think in the long run it will be beneficial to Democrats. It will be beneficial to Democrats because I think it has exposed the absurdity of this super-majority being necessary to govern and to pass any legislation.
Already we are beginning to see stirrings from Democrats about changing the Senate rules and for good reason. The Republicans have turned the filibuster into their own personal veto. Election results have become invalidated and the democracy that so many Americans grew up believing in has become dysfunctional. And as long as nothing gets done then the minority party can claim that the majority party is not responding to the wishes of the American people. By employing this strategy the Republicans have given fuel to the directionless populist movement known as the “tea-baggers”, who’s only common thread appears to be that they are against government and who can blame them. My belief is that what many of them are against is a government that is broken with no possible remedy in sight.
Even folks who previously believed in the power of government to affect positive change in the lives of people are on the ropes after the whole health-care debacle. Unlike many of the right-wing conservative talking heads I do not think that the way to move forward is to go backwards. This strategy plays right into the hands of their obstinate politicians who only have to prevent government from working to win and not actually get anything done. The Democratic strategy moving forward should be to make democracy work again not by trying to continue to seek bi-partisanship with a group that has no intention of working with you, but by changing the rules to allow our democracy to work. What many Americans just want to see is action being taken even if that action is wrong.
The American public is not that concerned with ideology as much as we are being told. There are segments to the extremes of both parties that hold those entrenched ideological positions but most Americans are pragmatist and they just want to see that something gets done. They want to believe that somebody is listening to them and responding to their concerns. If the Democrats are not able to provide them with that then they will suffer great loses in November. The truth is that for the long-term future of America this strategy of breaking our democracy holds dangers that the politicians and strategists of today are not concerned with and that is dangerous. If we continue this cycle of each party getting elected and no one accomplishing anything then the future of our whole democracy is at stake. Eventually the country will become ungovernable and maybe that is the goal of the Republicans.
A good example of this phenomenon of just do something is George W. Bush even in the midst of his wrecking the country he continued to score fairly high marks until the end. Those marks were due in a large part I believe to his ability to appear to be getting things done, they may have been the wrong things but they were getting things done. If the Democrats have any chance of salvaging this November they had better get down to the business of making government work again. I say this not because of its short term benefit of keeping them in power but because of its long-term benefit and that is because it is the right thing to do for our nation.
Scorched earth campaigns may win you the battle, but it leaves the land barren and unfruitful for a long time and with the current state of our nation is this something we can afford?
In the first 50 years of the filibuster, it was used only 35 times. But the last Congress alone had 112 cloture motions filed, plus threats of more. This is the tyranny of the minority. – Peter Fenn