Democrats & Liberals Archives

Poll: Republicans Need To Meet Everybody Else Halfway

Oh, and while we’re at it, 63% of Americans still want comprehensive Healthcare Reform. The Republicans have built their obstructionist agenda on the notion that somehow, a majority of people want Democrats to go back to the center. Well, in the poll, those who thought Obama needed to give a little more were neck and neck with those who though he was doing enough. Meanwhile, 58% of Americans think the Republicans need to compromise more.

And this is with only a quarter of all Americans understanding that it takes sixty votes to break a filibuster. The results don't get better for the Republicans in another poll Which has half of all Americans wanting the filibuster gone.

One wonders how many would do away with filibusters as they're done now, if they fully understood how many people it took to break one, and how much the Republicans have used it to obstruct the agenda of the Congress they elected.

I'm fortunate enough to have been taught about the rules of the Senate and the House, about committees and everything, about how the idea that bills just get voted on, and that nobody reads the damn things usualy is wrong. Nonetheless, many people who do know better, who should know better, use that rhetoric.

What the Republicans are doing is condescending to them. Did Americans vote Democrats in so that things would remain the same? It's clear they didn't. They want financial reforms, Wall Street's greed held in check. They want reform of trade, so they aren't seeing their jobs shipped overseas. They want to be able to go to a doctor when they need to, especially if they have a so-called pre-existing condition that makes getting good healthcare all the more important. They want somebody to help fix the economic situation in America, so they can find jobs and have some pride. They want help when they're down and out, and security when their working life has run its course.

Republicans have a tendency to look down their nose at people who ask for these things, call them lazy, call them welfare queens. One popular Republican calls women who stand up for their rights feminazis. Many Republicans still vote for denying gays who want to serve this country, who have become accepted in most communities in America already anyways, the chance to serve their country, and pledge their commitment to their partners.

The Republicans talk about condescension, but have you heard their rhetoric? The intellectuals become eggheads. The scientists talking about global warming become money-grubbers after research grants. The folks who dissent from their hardlines on foreign policy are branded cowards and traitors. The folks who dissent from their vision of government are called communists and socialists.

Which is not to say Democrats and Liberals don't have their share of bad rhetoric and prejudices against Republicans. But let's lay to rest any notion that the Republicans have simply been fighting the good fight, and need not make peace with anybody. Republicans have been especially belligerent in their politics, and they need to face just how far they've gone over the line before they start complaining about us, about how we need to compromise with them.

We've done plenty of compromise, and are willing to do more. But we've done so under the strain of more than a generation's worth of retreats on our principles. We've been accomodating the Republicans and their vision for so long, that some of us even join them in trying to save the status quo.

But let's face facts, all of us: the status quo is dead. The post-vietnam Recovery of the military that marked foreign policy for so long now fades into our recovery from the mistakes in Mesopotamia and Central Asia. The post-New Deal world of the Reagan Revolution has run smack dab into the Great Recession, and whatever buzzwords and memes have been driven into their heads before, what they are really asking for is more government help, and more government intervention in the markets. People are fed up and frustrated with the government, and it's not merely a passing phase. The Bush Administration was not merely a political disaster for the Republicans, but a wholesale failure of their political leadership to align their interests with the interests of the American people.

Republicans are not maintaining the old order. They are preventing it from being eased out gracefully, damming up the public sentiment in hopes that it won't overwhelm them again. But if you look at the last six years, that strategy has failed time and again. Even though the Surge was somewhat successful militarily, it did not work to redeem the public's opinion of the war, nor to persuade them to continue it indefinitely. Even the necessary war of Afghanistan has lost people's faith. The Great Recession has cratered people's trust in the markets. The old social wedge issues do not work on the more socially liberal millenial generation. On these and other issues, American opinion has shifted, and ironically enough, perhaps, because the Republicans insisted on a hard line in government against them.

The Republicans are creating a problem for themselves. That problem, to put it plainly, is that they aren't letting people have the time or opportunity to work out their frustrations with the Republican's leadership. They aren't correcting the mistakes, or casting aside the errant theories that brought everybody such grief. They're doing very little to resolve the tensions between themselves and everybody else, to get the party to change and adapt to current circumstances. The result is, basically, the creation of much greater animus against Republican policies than there otherwise would be, animus that grows greater as people become more and more frustrated with the obstructionist tactics of the party.

And the result of that? A much sharper break with Republican policies as they stand now, than would otherwise be the case. We've already seen it. Would the thirst for a game-changer like Obama been as great, if the Republicans had truly compromised with the new Democratic Majority? If they had not started their filibustering with that Congress, and essentially blocked things, would people have felt such a need to make that second, more considerable push in 2008?

If Bush had dealt with policy properly in terms of fiscal policy, or the war, would his party have suffered so much?

If Republicans had put real regulation on the banks and financial companies, wouldn't that have prevented the collapse that now gives people second thoughts everytime the GOP mentions deregulation?

Tensions and changes in the critical mass of opinion are crucial factors, I believe, in politics. The Republicans, proud as they are, don't want to believe that they are a party in decline, a party that will have to compromise to see to its interests, to defuse movements against it. But that is exactly the position they are in.

Look at Obama. Never mind where was, look at where he is. Then look at where the Republicans are. Look at the low regard for their tactics. People are not cheering on this obstruction. They are not cheering on the lack of progress, the failures of the Obama Administration.

In other words, Obama remains more popular than the Republicans, his party more trusted than the Republicans, and the Republicans tactics are not popular. This is not a position from which to lead, where people are naturally going to go the Republican's way if they win the latest political battle. It is just as likely that more emphatic, less compromising Democrats will find their opportunity to exploit the failure of the more compromising Democrats to their advantage. Whether that's now or 2012 is irrelevant, it will happen eventually.

The truth of the matter is, the Republican's obstructive tactics only serve to put more weight behind the Democrats forgoing compromise and getting what they want when they finally consolidate their power. That means when the Republican's strength as a party fails, it will feel a backlash from it that will undermine their power even more than they could have imagined. If they think it's bad now that Democrats hold what they hold, what happens when Democrats get their act together, and stop acting like the minority party they once were?

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at February 12, 2010 6:50 PM
Comments
Comment #295515

Now look what those darn Republicans have done.

They’ve confused dear old Danny Quayle:

“They’re gonna go to budget reconciliation, which I believe would set a very bad precedent, because essentially — if they could do it, and I don’t know if they can do it, but if they could do it — what you have done, effectively, is to take away the filibuster in the United States Senate,” Quayle said. “So, therefore, you have 51 votes in the House and 51 votes in the Senate. That is not what our Founding Fathers had in mind. That is not the constitutional process.”

Remind me again why there is any bipartisan consensus on handing this guy a microphone?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 12, 2010 8:21 PM
Comment #295516

Stephen

I am among those who think they should keep on trying. But I also think that they have to jettison the current mistakes and get something better.

The goal is a good reform of health care, which includes lowering the cost, tort reform etc. THe Democrats have identified the right goal, but they are taking the wrong road to get there. Keep on trying doesn’t mean driving faster down the wrong road.

Posted by: Christine at February 12, 2010 8:57 PM
Comment #295518

Christine-
So, the takeaway is, “be bipartisan, just do everything our way?”

Do you really think any Democrat who agrees to that after the crap Democrats went through last year would get re-elected? Stop acting like the Democrats don’t have constituents who want and deserve consideration from their elected officials.

Tell me: do Republicans have a comprehensive plan? Can they guarantee more people would be covered? Well, when Republicans offered their plan last year, the liberal’s plan beat it hands down, even in deficit reduction.

Ask yourself: Why should Democrats keep making the results of the bill, which they will be judged on, worse, to satisfy the wishes of the party that has blocked seventy percent of their legislation for the last few years?

The lesson Democrats are learning from the Republicans is that it does no good to bargain with them, so long as things remain as they are. It will not get bills passed.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 12, 2010 9:28 PM
Comment #295519

Stephen

I think that takeaway you mention is what Democrats have offered.

We should not go with either the Democratic or the Republican plan. We should find a plan that works. Neither does now.

The article you mention, BTW, is misleading. The Democratic plan (whatever that is) plans to “cut” the deficit by making unrealistic assumptions about cuts and by adding taxes and fees. It just changes who pays. It doesn’t lower costs.

Posted by: Christine at February 12, 2010 9:56 PM
Comment #295522

Christine-
Unrealistic by whose estimation, on what grounds?

It’s fairly easy to present “roadmaps” as alternatives, or pull figures out of the air to give the impression of authority on such matters, but the truth is, your people are trying to spin the fact that Democrats are putting out bills that reduce deficits and costs. Democrats are paying attention to the issue Republicans didn’t, when they had their shot at leadership.

Now you can say what we should be doing, Democrats and Republicans, but the trouble is, you have to deal with the Republicans you actually have in office, and what they’re doing, and have been doing.

Democrats have had to do the same. The difference is, we’ve had to endure decades worth of rolling back our own priorities to compromise with yours as a minority party.

And now we’ve had to endure four years of having compromise as the majority. We’ve gone way out of our way trying to make deals, only to continuously be blocked.

And you guys just want everything put back to the drawing board?

I don’t think most Democrats think they have anything to gain by doing this. You folks had plenty of opportunity to both exercise bipartisanship and encourage it, by being willing to vote for bills often heavily laden with compromises meant to please your party, and gain Republican votes.

I think it’s time you ask your Senators to make their peace with the fact that they are a minority, before their lack of compromise shuts them out of the process even more. It’s not like the Senate didn’t have plenty of Democrats willing to help the Republicans get their compromises through. Your folks just wasted the opportunity you had with them so you could continue this mindless opposition to anything that Obama could take credit for.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 12, 2010 10:52 PM
Comment #295524

Stephen


Then don’t compromise. Democrats have the power. We will see how far this wagon can roll and what happens in November.

I believe that the bill as it seems to be working out now is worse than nothing. If it doesn’t improve, let it go down and let something better rise from the ashes.

Posted by: Christine at February 12, 2010 11:18 PM
Comment #295527

Christine
Again with tort reform? The nine states that have limited damages in medical malpratice suits have not experienced ANY reduction in the cost of medical care and only slight reduction in the cost of malpractice insurance. IT DOES NOT WORK TO REDUCE MEDICAL COST. Although Reps just love weakenning consumer protections,can we stick to measures that have some hope of solving the problem. How about barring payments for testing done at facilities where the ordering physian has a financial interest?How about setting up a commision that examines the statistical efficacy of treatment, limiting payments for those that do not work?(in the bill). How about setting up national exchanges for consumers to pick coverage without state limits to increase insurance competition?(in the bill). How about preventive care(in the bill).How about streamlining record keeping(in the bill).
The Dem bill is very much like the Rohmney program. Its not as “left” as a program Nixon proposed. It is a sensible,moderate proposal that was vilified and lied about by a party leadership committed to doing the bidding of the corporatipons that pay to keep them powerful.
BTW Does J’s government employment entitle you to government health benefits?Sorry.This goes to credibility.

Posted by: bills at February 13, 2010 12:33 AM
Comment #295530

Christine-
You’re not going to get a bill from your people in Congress. They’re not interested in earning their way back. They think they’ve figured out that they can just bluff and scaremonger their way back into your good graces.

Why bother with compromises when they’ve sold the myth of evil liberals so well that such a compromise would lose them their base? They have a perverse incentive not to be good leaders, not to let anything pass.

Until it becomes clear that they have more to lose by failing to govern well together with the Democrats, we’re not going to get productive compromises out of them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 13, 2010 12:45 AM
Comment #295533

Bills

If it doesn’t matter, maybe Democrats should just call the Republican bluff and give it to them.

Stephen

Good. Don’t compromise. Can I make it any clearer? Both sides can do what they think is right. Democrats have the bigger power. Use it.

You keep on asking Republicans to get on board with the Democratic program. It ain’t gonna happen. If you want to compromise and take on board other ideas, good. If not, do what you think you can about it, but stop with the appeals and threats.

You are right about one thing. Republicans have no incentive to get on board the Democratic plan. It is a bad plan and why should Republicans board the train bound for nowhere?

Posted by: Christine at February 13, 2010 1:08 AM
Comment #295534

Stephen,

Wow, it’s always the same story —the Democrat definition of bipartisanship is for Republicans (or any opposition) to go along with their every socialist agenda.

But it really is fascinating. …the sudden return of the need of bipartisanship and compromise.

Is this a case of selective memory? Republicans haven’t begun to approach the level of partisanship, opposition, obstruction, and rancor that Democrats displayed in the minority.

Hell, Bush was ‘illegitimate’ and ‘unelected’ from day one. Democrats wrote the book on obstruction …and the GOP don’t seem to learn well from them at all. They don’t seem to remember or have the guts to do half the partisan/obstructionist stunts that democrats were willing to do while in the minority.

Basically, what you are demanding is that all opposition cease. Don’t oppose your socialist agenda because to do so is partisan, divisive, and above all morally wrong— but you have no such definition for yourself or democrats when the shoe is on the other foot.

Sorry.

I oppose my liberty being taken away.

I oppose the piecemeal destruction of my American heritage and sovereign rights as a citizen to make my own decisions about the fundamental functions of my life and the life of my family.

I oppose the replacement of individualist liberty with collectivist tyranny.

I oppose the utter disregard Pelosi and Reid have shown for the concerns of ordinary Americans about their plans for restructuring this country.

Democrats have been completely drunk with power this last year, but now that their one party rule is threatened it’s somehow Republicans fault for not explaining the healthcare bill to the American people well enough to get it passed?

Shame on you Stephen for suggesting that Democrats failure is due to a lack of ‘bipartisanship’ when republican concerns about this from the start were met by Obama with the statement, “I won.”

Republicans have been by and large shut out of the construction of healthcare reform. It has been your (democrats) show from day one. Once it is constructed Republicans are told to support it— is this your bipartisanship?

Democrats have acted arrogantly for the past year; with complete and total control of congress. They campaigned on fiscal responsibility and centrist moderation but once they gained power they turned hard left and ran up the bills to such an extent that it is historic and record breaking by any standard.

Your democrats have gone a drunken spending spree, and tried to ram down a takeover of Healthcare, attempting to hide all the nasty, sneaky details, and telling republicans to swallow it or else— without a seat at the table in creating it— and now you think that it’s Republicans fault that the bill didn’t get passed?

Balderdash.

Posted by: Eric at February 13, 2010 1:32 AM
Comment #295537

Christine
It is not a Democartic proposal. It is very similar to the plan Mitt Rohmney crafted. There are not a lot of options if you attempt to keep insurance carriers from denying coverage to people or kicking them off for getting sick. Almost everyone supports that,conservatives and liberals.The senate version had a funding mechanism that taxed high cost plans. That was suggested by McCain in the election. Efficacy panels? That should cetainly appeal to fiscal conservatives. Why should we pay for treatments shown not to work?
There is a good chance that “malpractice tort reform” will indeed be part of a sickenning cave in to the Reps, as you just love weakenning consumer protection and the trial lawyers usually support the party that actually tries and protect people instead of corporations. I saw a great commercial in CA. paid for by the trial lawyers. On it was a fairly nice looking woman in her forties or so. She looked right into the camera and stated,”It wasn’t lawyers that cut off my breast by accident.”She was no actor. Pretty effective.

Posted by: bills at February 13, 2010 3:25 AM
Comment #295538

Eric
As I recall you stating after the election that would be angry if Obama saved you from a burning building I suppose this is an exercise in futility. Exactly what liberty is BHO and the Dems trying to take away?Your right to neglect health coverage so that when you get sick the rest of us have to pay for it? Where is that in the Constitution? Are you concerned about the”right” of financial institutions to bring the worlds economy to its knees so they can pocket billions? Where is that in the Constitution?Are you all flipped out about the stimulus package? Every other western democracy and a number of eastern ones had to do the same thing. Its the only response when the monetary interest rates hit near zero. Are you angry that we did not just let the banks go under and got stuck with an impossible amount of deficit spending trying to pay off taxpayer insured deposits and pension plans? Is that one of your liberties?
Our brave men and women in uniform have just launched a major offensive in Afghanistan. How about putting aside the baseless carping for awhile and supporting them and their commander in chief, like a real patriot.

Posted by: bills at February 13, 2010 4:20 AM
Comment #295543

Christine-
You don’t have to get on. You can vote against everything in the final vote, the one that actually passes the bill. And if you can get enough of the people who actually vote with you from time to time to vote with you, then you can successfully block passage of these bills.

Of course, that means you’ll actually be responsible for those votes, but at least you can say it fell by a simple majority. Of course, then some people might suffer for their votes, but that’s the way things go.

This body was not designed to be held accountable to a minority party. It was designed to pass legislation by a majority, and 50%+1 is a majority. There is no constitutional requirement for 60 votes for ordinary legislation.

You don’t have to get on board. You just have to stop acting like you own the deed and property of Capitol Hill, and are entitled to push your agenda even when you’ve been voted out of power by the American people. In return, you can ask this of us when you get into power. Otherwise, as I laid out in my previous entry on this subject, the future is, Democrats use this on your people when you’re the majority.

You understand that? This is about our system working. You don’t get to destroy it just because you don’t like the agenda of the majority. Majority rules. That’s how a Democracy has to work. Otherwise, it’s just the tyranny of a few over the many.

You have to look at this at a higher level than just what the Republican Party wants.

Eric-
Glad you’re so pleased with yourself, and what a blow you’re striking for Democracy by opposing the rule of the majority.

You talk of individual rights. Like Habeas Corpus, protections against cruel and unusual punishment, from unwarranted search and seizure?

You talk about us being drunk with power. Yeah, we’re so powerful that we can’t even pass legislation with a fifty-nine seat majority. We’re so powerful that we’ve been obstructed from day-one, and by that I mean January 2007, by your party, despite your shrunken margins in the Senate.

112 filibuster threats. Holds on most of Obama’s nominees, still well over a hundred still held up. No other President, not even Johnson, not even Bush 43, had to deal with this level of obstruction.

But I guess if you can rewrite history to suit, that doesn’t matter. Everything just is what you say it is, what you need it to be to justify whatever your party’s doing.

Your people had seats at the table. They got hundreds of Amendments in. They took the negotiations in the finance committee and made them take months. You couldn’t have asked for friendlier souls to your cause than Baucus and Conrad. And what came of that? A bill that Democrats had trouble agreeing with, and no Republican votes. Chuck Grassley even said, confronted with all the concessions he got, that he couldn’t vote for it unless another Republican voted for it, despite getting everything he wanted.

That’s the absurdity of your “bipartisan” BS. What’s the point of negotiating and making all these concessions if you folks won’t give your votes anyways, not even if we include all your ideas? Bipartisanship is not giving up on our own ideas, nor is compromise giving the other side everything they want, even if they won’t vote for a damn thing.

There can be no such bipartisanship unless your side is willing to negotiate in good faith, your overheated rhetoric set aside. You can’t expect us to essentially become Republican-lites, to get your approval.

Your democrats have gone a drunken spending spree, and tried to ram down a takeover of Healthcare,

Drunken Spending spree?

Medicare, parts C+D. Two wars. A trillion dollar tax cut that’s. You tried to pass a Social Security reform bill that was going to cost 200 billion dollars a year over ten years to set up, without making Social Security one bit more solvent.

Most of the deficits either come from the failure of the economy, and the shortfall that created, or from policies that your President, your precious Republican Congress put in place. Maybe it looks like a sudden increase, but perhaps that’s because Obama put in the budget all the spending that Bush was leaving off the budget to make his spending look smaller.

Meanwhile, we had the bloody worst recession since the Great Depression to dig ourselves out of, interests rates down to zero, and consumer spending at terrible lows. Without our measures, you could have added millions more jobs to current unemployment mess, and knocked quite a few points off the GDP.

All you folks can suggest is a plan that takes Fifty [freak]ing years to get us out of the deficit, and does so at the expense of Medicare promises, and that same Social Security plan that wasn’t going to do a damn thing five years ago.

Yeah. That’s your “fiscal conservatism.”

The balderdash is that the GOP, as it is, says anything but what it takes to make Democrats look bad, and itself good.

I mean, “Death Panels”. That’s one of your “nasty, sneaky” details. And how many of those nasty details came from the pens of your Senators and Representatives?

The truth is, your party is holding the legislative process hostage. The Democrats are going to spend the next year making sure people know that it’s your party that’s standing in the way of getting people employed, getting people healthcare, and all those nice things. They’ll be able to say that there’s all this legislation that could help you that’s not getting through the legislature to the President’s desk because of your party’s complete and utter disregard for majority rules, it’s abuse of a Senate Power that was never enumerated in the constitution, against a majority power that was so obvious that the framers only bothered to list the exceptions to the general rule.

Is there no shame in the Republican Party, nothing you won’t do to reclaim the power that voting majorities took away from you?

How long do you think Republicans can get away with flouting the will of the people?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 13, 2010 9:01 AM
Comment #295547

Stephen

Poker analogies are flawed but useful in this case. We have reached the point where we are laying the cards on the table. The Democratic leadership does not have the right cards to win. You are asking Republicans to throw in some of theirs in order to pass a bill they do not agree with. Ain’t gonna happen.

So you can stop telling us what Republicans should do and you can stop the Democratic bluff. The choice is now all in the Democratic leadership hands. They can push through their unpopular program in a series of dubious maneuvers or they can work to get something better. In any case, the moment of truth has arrived.

All the cards are on the table and Democrats are faced with something they hate … responsibility.

Posted by: Christine at February 13, 2010 9:55 AM
Comment #295548

“How long do you think Republicans can get away with flounting the will of the people”
AS LONG AS DEMOCRATS IGNORE IT.

Posted by: KAP at February 13, 2010 10:46 AM
Comment #295549

Christine-
Always another reason to disregard majorities you don’t agree with. This is like playing a game of poker, but dictating that only face cards can win hands. Becomes a lot tougher, doesn’t it? Well, it just happens to be the case that no other majority in history, not even Johnson’s majority has ever been asked to win the game under these conditions.

Because nobody else made a institution of the filibuster, a comprehensive strategy. It’s an abomination to democracy to have 41 dictate to 59 what the agenda is. The constitution enshrines the majority as the basic unit of political authority.

Remember the words of Thomas Jefferson:

“The first principle of republicanism is that the lex majoris partis is the fundamental law of every society of individuals of equal rights; to consider the will of the society enounced by the majority of a single vote as sacred as if unanimous is the first of all lessons in importance, yet the last which is thoroughly learnt. This law once disregarded, no other remains but that of force, which ends necessarily in military despotism.” —Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, 1817. ME 15:127

So what else is this but the Republicans using force to get what they cannot get through a majority? As important as the Republicans may think themselves to the future of this country, no party in a democracy is, or should be considered, indispensable. The Republicans should respect the will of the people, the rule of the majority, and work to persuade the people to give them the majority, rather than use a loophole of the Senate laws as an institutional blockages to an entire agenda of the majority that has earned its right to rule.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 13, 2010 11:54 AM
Comment #295550

Stephen,

Why don’t the democrats actually force the filibuster?

Posted by: Rob at February 13, 2010 2:10 PM
Comment #295551

Stephen

Democrats hold the power. They cannot even get 51 of their own people on board. The intra-Democrat negotiations have failed so now they want to try to create an outside enemy.

So get angry if you want, but be angry at the right people - Democrats. Those spineless wonders insist on the proposition that a minority can kick them around.

The Democrats clearly have not earned the right to rule, since they just couldn’t get it going when they had 60 votes.

Let the people decide in November. If they are angry as you say, perhaps they will elect more Democrats.

I feel pretty good about this. Evidently four Republicans are worth more than six Democrats. If we were playing a pick-up basketball game, we would have to give you a couple extra guys … and we still would win.

You know the truth. The truth is that Democrats don’t want to pass this health care bill. They dug themselves into a hole and they know it. Now they are just trying to find a way to blame Republicans for Democratic weakness.

I would be ashamed of Pelosi and Reid too. Don’t feel bad about that. They will be gone soon.

Posted by: Christine at February 13, 2010 2:43 PM
Comment #295554

S.D. wrote: “Meanwhile, 58% of Americans think the Republicans need to compromise more.”

There is the box Republicans have painted themselves into. It is a no-win Catch 22 they have created for themselves. If they compromise more, they will lose more of their base. If they don’t compromise more, the Democrats will clobber them with obstructionism, to the detriment of all people and the nation. One has to be pretty leaderless, ignorant, or just plain stupid to get themselves into that kind of Catch-22 with their eyes wide open. I personally attribute this GOP position a result of being leaderless. None of the Republicans I know as neighbors are either stupid or ignorant of what is happening. That leaves, leaderless as the only rational explanation. And that points the fingers directly at McConnel and Boehner and their lesser mirrors in the media and Congress. There’s never an Abraham Lincoln standing around when you need one, I guess.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 13, 2010 3:09 PM
Comment #295556

Stephen D.,

Christine said: “I am among those who think they should keep on trying. But I also think that they have to jettison the current mistakes and get something better.”

And I have to agree with Christine, on this one. However, I believe there are chasmic differences between Christine and I on our definitions of what are mistakes and what should be kept.

Stephen, the Democrats need the public behind them on this. They need the public to own what is passed. Therefore, Democrats have an obligation to use the polls to determine what components of the previous House and Senate bills meet with public majority approval, and pare away the rest for another time when public opinion may be more receptive and consensual.

Failure to follow this path carries as a liability with passing reform, the public’s blaming and resenting Democrats for a bill they didn’t support as a majority in the first place.

You know the opposition machine is going to pick at the perceived and invented failures of whatever reform Democrats pass. It is politically smart to break this reform down into stages, and get the majority of public approval behind each stage as it passes. Otherwise, the reform is not political asset to Democrat’s record, but, a liability.

Why can’t the Democratic leadership see this and convince their party of the prudence of following my recommended course of action - which btw, incorporates the best of how Democracy is supposed to work. Your party is called the Democratic Party, after all. Live up to it, and get the majority of the public behind each stage of reform as it passes.

Trying to do it all at once, leaves the majority of the public confused and or opposed. That does not incorporate the heart of democratic process.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 13, 2010 5:22 PM
Comment #295559


David, I have to disagree. I believe that your approach should be put off. I think that the American people have been exposed to so much distortions and false accusations that they don’t know what to think.

I believe that Obama is attempting to do what the Democrats should have done from the start but, instead of a nationally televised debate on health care, there should be a series of debates and all three sides should have the opportunity to present their policy proposals with accounting numbers and be prepared to defend their proposals.

Only in this manner can the people have the accurate information they need to help the government make the critical decisions.

IMO, this is the only way that informed democratic choices by the people can overcome democracy by way of loud mouthed pundit.

Posted by: jlw at February 13, 2010 8:45 PM
Comment #295560


There is an article titled The Lobbying-Media Complex at the Nation.com website. It is an imformative read.

Posted by: jlw at February 13, 2010 9:04 PM
Comment #295563

David R. Remer-
I would say the reason why Democrats haven’t been more assertive is that the leaders are used to being in the minority of a party in its decline.

I mean, people like me, we’re bloody aggressive when it comes to the Republican. However, the previous generation of Democrats have grown up politically in the Reagan-Gingrich Era, where Democrats not only were expected to capitulate, but even encouraged to by many of their voters.

I think, though, that the Democrats in Congress are beginning to realize that they can no longer do that and maintain the support of their voters, much less expect the cooperation of the Republicans.

You have to realize, though, that from the point of view of the Washington Democrats, they’d been getting along fine for decades doing things like that. They simply had the political calculations wrong. Bipartisanship will only get you somewhere with somebody who is willing to bargain with you in good faith. The centrists and conservatives in my party, those who might ironically help Republicans moderate policies they find objectionable, are getting burnt and sometimes burned out by the Republican’s obstruction. If they can’t get votes by watering down bills, if they only seem to function to undermine getting legislation through, then what use does my party have for tolerating their behavior?

In the face of Republican unity against passing anything, Democrats are forced to either unite, or lose power.

Rob-
I would say they don’t force them because it doesn’t really get you past the cloture vote at the end of the day. Not that I wouldn’t recommend it, given the political theatre of it, and the visibility of it, but at the end of the day, you still need sixty votes to get something past it.

Sigh. I don’t know. The trouble for people like you, is that I’m the patient sort of Democrat. And you see how irate it gets me. Bit by bit, the willingness of the Democratic Party Caucus to negotiate with the Republicans, to moderate policy to get their votes, is being burned out. And why would it not be? Negotiate with Republicans, and you get no success. They oppose you on any bill you propose. There is no upside, no incentive. just the appearance of weakness.

Observe Harry Reid’s rather quick smackdown of Baucus’s draft of the Jobs bill. Last year, this time, he was more than willing to bargain with Republicans to get the Stimulus package through, and as a matter of fact, Republican Senators were able to get some concessions.

But now? Now Reid takes Baucus’s bill off the desk and drops it in the trash can.

That, I think, is the difference the humiliating debacle of the Healthcare negotiations makes. That is the measure of how much influence Baucus must have lost, to be so summarily dismissed.

Every conservative Democrat who has joined in filibusters, who has held out, has painted a target on their backs, because of their role in drawing it out, watering it down, and tanking party morale.

If the Republicans were being politically astute here, they would have never let the bridges get burned like that, their assets disavowed. Sure, it might swing them a few seats next election, but if they don’t get the majority, they are looking at a considerably less compromising majority to have to deal with, which will be increasingly dominated over time with Democrats who are more committed to the party line. This is what, in natural selection terms, they are encouraging in the development of the Democratic species. Democrats without spines are going to lose out to those with them. Democrats who help consolidate party power will get more support and have more influence than those who undermine the power of the party.

Maybe Republicans want a harder-line Democratic Party, but if that party gains sixty, it’s going to be a hell of a lot less accommodating than the party they might have had to dealt with if they simply accepted their defeat, and bided their time to restore their party on most substantive grounds.

Christine-
Don’t trash talk me. I’ve been doing this for about six years now, and I’ve argued with some pretty committed Republicans who told me that the Republicans were going to win. Sometimes they were right. But I’d put it this way: two times before, they were very wrong.

You say we can’t get fifty-one, I’d say, we can. It’s only the middle of February, and the only real issue is what the fixes are going to be. You probably said that we weren’t going to be able to get sixty, and we got it anyways. Now everybody’s committed, and those holdout Senators are going to realize that they have their name on this anyways, and simply ducking the vote to make it happen won’t wipe away the mark beside their name in the Senate database.

As for earning the right to rule, we won the elections to get those Senate Seats. Mind telling me what else the constitution requires for a right to rule the Senate?

You can compare this political process to any other kind of game you want to, but the rules by which the Senate game was started are right there in the text of the constitution, and a sixty vote threshold is not there.

Yes, let the people decide, as the constitution says they have the right to, in November.

That’s what, nine months? Nine months to justify to the American people whatever else the Republicans are blocking, with a still Popular president leading the party to put the blame for the obstruction squarely on your party’s shoulders.

See, your party’s success on this depended on the Democrats simply suffering in silence, trying not to provoke further obstruction by complaining about it. Ironically though, losing the sixtieth seat leaves them with nothing left to lose in that respect.

And the Republicans? The Republicans are going to have to either justify holding up a jobs bill, with their obstruction already unpopular, their means of doing it already under criticism, or gut their morale by letting the Democrats legislate as their majority should allow them to do. Whatever you think about their right to rule, they are the constitutionally vested representatives and senators of the districts and states in question.

Because your party has put such an emphasis on a simple stubborn refusal to let the Democrats hold power, you are between a rock and a hard place. You have no options, no choices. Either lose the center as Democrats forcefully attack you for holding up economically-focused legislation, or lose your base for letting the Democrats get on with the agenda they were elected to move forward.

Meanwhile, Obama can play, in good faith or not, the willing compromiser who is frustrated by a recklessly, unselectively obstructive party. He can play the Avenger, taking the fight to the Republicans for their refusal to the let the Senate do business. He has plans. He has things for people to say yes to. He can be Saint Nicholas. The Republicans can only be that imp who fills the stockings with coal.

People have seen Obama reach out. What have they seen out of the Republicans?

True, this isn’t the position we hoped we’d be in, but I’m sure glad not to be a Republican, not to have to eat more and more rationalizations about why the party has no policy, no leadership, no alternatives that can be taken seriously.

I’m glad that my President has the flexibility to leave failed approaches behind, and not desperately cling to one, and only one course of action. In material science, it is the inflexible materials that are most brittle. Strength requires the ability to give without being permanently deformed by the load put on them.

You seem to hope for a 1994-style wave election. The trouble is, Republicans don’t have a true alternative. Their best answer right now to Democratic Party policy is to drastically cut and alter the very medicare that they were trying to scare seniors about the Obama administration making changes to.

If that is their unifying call to battle, things probably won’t go to plan.

You’re in no position to boast, or gloat. Democrats could lose five seats in the Senate next election, and still be in charge. hell, we’d be about where the Republicans were, when they took over. And the House? Good God, you have more people retiring in the House than we do.

In 1994, you guys were fresh. You had ideas, you had leaders, you had Reagan not six years out of office, and still around to excite the base. You had a President who was a DLC triangulator, rather than Centrist with leftward sensibilities. You had a President who was much about Superficial charm, rather than one whose strong point was substantive debate.

In the end, people still blame this economy much on the Bush Administration. They still recall the irresponsibility of the Republican party. You folks are the stale wind of Washington, the defenders of the status quo. The best you can promise them, is that nothing will change.

And that is something this President can use against you.

Don’t be so quick to declare victory. That’s been a bad habit in your party. In 2003, your president though the war would be over in six months. In 2004, the Republicans thought they’d be a permanent majority. In 2006, they thought a campaign of obstruction would get them back in power in 2008, and in 2008, they’d thought they’d whip up on that young inexperienced Junior Senator from Chicago.

Now, in 2010, after years of serious political defeats, you think your party is in a position to repeat 1994.

No. You’re not. Now, you could make considerable gains if the Democrats don’t get their act together, but I think that for the sake of getting that victory with Scott Brown, the Republicans may have lost the advantage of having Democrats complacent and unenergized. The Democrats, shocked by this senseless loss, are going to fight harder than they might have otherwise.

We are going to make this a choice between a Party that wants to move things forwards, and a party that wants to keep us mired in our current economic and political status quo, just so it can win some elections.

You might think this is a game, but millions of Americans don’t. If your people continue to block the Democrat’s agenda, especially now with the focus turned to jobs, the Democrats WILL make Republicans suffer for it, and gladly so.

This should be so easy for the Republicans, but they are going to keep on putting themselves in a position where they can’t do anything else but say no. And because Democrats know exactly what they are going to say, Democrats have a stationary target to hit with their attacks.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 13, 2010 10:08 PM
Comment #295571

Stephen

Re earning the right to rule – Democrats won the position to rule. It is obvious that their internal divisions and character deficiencies make it impossible for them to rule. It is their misfortune and the country’s, but not the fault of Republicans.

If you can get the 51 votes, do it.Prove me wrong.

You keep on getting into these hypotheticals about what Republicans should do.I am strictly practical.

Republicans don’t agree with the directions Democrats are taking us on health care. They cannot in ethically support what they think is wrong. Maybe they will go down in defeat for opposing the Democratic health care proposals. But it is better to go down in a good cause than to prosper with a bad one. Why would you expect anything else?

If Democrats were in the minority, would they support Republican plans they thought were wrong? Did they support Social Security reform? Were they just being cynical or were they acting from conviction? Republicans are doing now what Democrats did then for the same sorts of reasons.

Re the elections in November – my guess is that Republicans will erase the Democratic gains of 2008, which means they will win 7+ seats in the Senate and 21 + in the House. You are right that they still won’t be a majority, but evidently Republicans can control the show w/o being in charge, or so you imply. This should be enough to moderate the Democrats.

Posted by: Christine at February 14, 2010 1:01 AM
Comment #295577

Christine-
Drop your support for the filibuster.

It’s real simple. Logically speaking, if every problem centers around the Democrat’s inability to get past internal discord, and it’s all their fault, then the filibuster is unnecessary. Why not just demonstrate that by stepping back and letting the Democrats fall in on themselves?

If it’s not unnecessary, though, then what you’re telling me is disingenuous. Trash talk, to put it politely. Arrogant, to be blunt. Condescending to the rest of Americans, who voted in Senators and House Representatives to get the change that the Republican Filibuster prevents in part, to be honest with you.

What gives you the right to make this distinction between the right to rule, and the position? The Constitution makes no such distinction. The members of the Senate have the power if they have the numbers, and we have the numbers necessary to pass ordinary legislation.

Now, we may not always have the numbers within that caucus to pass everything. But the trouble here, is that you are not letting plenty of votes, and plenty of positions that the Senate could agree to by a majority, pass by that simple majority. Everything is held to a much higher standard that is not mentioned in the constitution, which is only the artifact of an abuse of a Senate Rule.

No other Senate Majority in history has been held to that kind of standard, not even yours.

As for ethically supporting what they believe in, there’s nothing that says that they can’t vote for cloture, and against the bill that was being debated.

The trick here is that you’re asking so many other Americans to put up with having their voice being taken away, just so you can keep things how you like them. Well, the strain is showing, if you’re paying attention, and my point to you would be that the last thing Republicans need is relations with the rest of America that are even more strained.

You’re so concerned about winning elections in the short term that you haven’t thought out the consequences of winning things this way.

But I guess an obliviousness to the political consequences of their ruthless tactics has served the Republicans so well up to this point, hasn’t it?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 14, 2010 8:42 AM
Comment #295597


If the Republicans can win 7 senate Senate seats and 21 House seats Obama will have the Congressional support he needs to pass legislation. It will still be touchy in the House but I think Pelosi can deliver enough Democrat votes to pass legislation. She would only need 20 Democrats.

Posted by: jlw at February 14, 2010 3:58 PM
Comment #295600

jlw,

Your comment above ignores two stark realities. First, is that Republicans have made it their mission to bring down this president, at all costs. Second, is that Republican victories in November will only reinforce that mission for 2012. Therefore, reality dictates that a working relationship between Obama and a Republican controlled Congress in either, or both houses, that can produce anything of substantial value to the nation and American people in meeting its challenges, is an entirely illogical conclusion.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 14, 2010 4:09 PM
Comment #295658

Stephen,

To truly meet halfway one starts from the beginning and works across the aisle as equals. One does not start with a plan that assumes the federal government owns the persons of the population and can specify how their property (or my person under any imagined color of law) must be cared for.

I am not a slave and I am not property. There is no halfway on that point. The federal government must never treat me or anyone in my family as property. If the government ever eres so greatly as to think of me, or them, as property they will have to enforce the abomination at gunpoint.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at February 15, 2010 2:12 PM
Comment #295671

Lee Jamison-
Equals in the sense of being there to be heard, of having the chance to confront and question the President directly on his plan?

Why do we need to give you that? You have it already. If you squandered that chance with bad ideas and unpersuasive arguments, with partisan posturing and talking point rhetoric… Well, that’s your problem.

Are you telling us that we have to come to this meeting without our plan? That we have to artificially level the playing field by starting over from scratch?

Your party’s obstructionism aside, we are still a historically large majority right now. In times past, that was considered a sign from the voters that they had a rather unequal preference for one side over the other.

That kind of inequality should not be disregarded. If the voters don’t like the result, they can vote that majority right back out. While it’s there, within the limits of decorum, the majority should rule, should set the agenda, and the minority should negotiate with members of the majority if they want their help in blocking passage, or if they want to rewrite things more favorably for their constituents.

And then, when you have the chance, you should have the equal opportunity to do just the same.

That’s equality: my majority should mean just as much as yours. We let you pass legislation. Why aren’t you treating our majority with equal respect? Why are you demanding majority deference as a party voters have stuck lower in the minority in the senate than it has been for decades?

You’re not asking equal treatment, you’re asking the American people for special treatment.

Come to the conference with your best ideas, we will come to it with ours. Our sides can be equal in that neither comes with a blank sheet of paper.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 15, 2010 5:25 PM
Comment #295678

Speaking of a blank sheet of paper…this was kinda cute.

http://www.openleft.com/diary/17398/gop-demands-white-house-post-health-care-proposal-online-then-attacks-wh-for-doing-exactly-that

and, perhaps an example of what Stephen is talking about…who knows anymore. The politic being exercised currently is not like any politic I’ve ever seen, and is certainly different than any in the past twenty years. What has happened to the Republican party?

Posted by: Marysdude at February 15, 2010 7:22 PM
Comment #295699

Marysdude-
I would say the political equivalent of a psychotic break. The Republicans are trying to completely short circuit any kind of accountability coming their way.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 15, 2010 10:06 PM
Comment #295848

Democrats need to stop using Republicans as an excuse for NOT providing the American people what they demand. Your party is going to get its ass kicked as a result of these excuses, by independent voters who wanted health care reform your party leadership refused to deliver in a form that could have passed.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 17, 2010 7:42 PM
Comment #295864

David,

Because our country requires the belance of a multi-party body politic. As it can be plainly seen by now, a single party system cannot function in a Democratic Republic. By virtue of the election wins in recent years, the Democrats should be able to negotiate some important legislation…especially the legislation on subjects that brought them the votes in the first place.

It may become imparitive that we carry on alone, but not until all means to compromise are met or exceeded. To continue as a single party, will mean even worse divisiveness into the future, which will likely lead to rebellion/revolution.

Can you even immagine the Constitution that a ‘tea party’ or a ‘green party’ would draw up?

Our nation needs a two party system more now than at any time in our histroy since 1776. I will never understand why the Republican Party allowed itself to be hi-jacked by the Beck’s, Limbaugh’s, Palin’s, etal…

Posted by: Marysdude at February 18, 2010 6:29 AM
Comment #296000

Stephen,

Democrats failed to ram through this healthcare takeover by themselves and are now attempting to shift the blame to Republicans. Seriously, how can you honestly expect any conservative to compromise their principles (not to mention those they represent) for the sake of ‘compromise’?

Do you remember any of the last eight years of Democrats poisoning the waters against Bush? Really?

Posted by: eric at February 20, 2010 9:09 PM
Comment #296001

bills,

I don’t think you need to make up quotes from me to make your point.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be that unhappy if Obama had in fact turned out to be what he purported to be: a centrist. The truth is that he lied to get into office. He is a leftist. And intends to govern that way. As such how can I support him? Why didn’t you support Bush and his policies and failed to reign in spending himself?

For that matter the title of this post says everything we need to know: Republicans need to compromise. ie- Democrats demand this policy be implemented and Republicans must cave to those demands and support Democrat policies.

Using this logic, why didn’t Democrats support Bush policies? Even though he did in fact do several things anathema to conservative ideology?

Posted by: eric at February 20, 2010 9:21 PM
Comment #296051

eric,

Democrats did go along with Cheney/Bush on many things (perhaps too many). There has been compromise in Congress since its inception…right up until now, when the Beck’s and Limbaugh’s came to power in the Republican Party…go figure…

Frankly, anyone left of Newt would be a far left radical to you, so your emphasis on how far left the President is can be taken with a grain of salt…

Posted by: Marysdude at February 21, 2010 1:16 PM
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