The United States is a republic, not a democracy. We elect lawmakers to represent us. The main reason why a republic works better than a democracy is that legislation is usually too complicated for average citizens to understand all the benefits and burdens, and more important, it is impossible for average citizens to know the politics behind any compromise. That's why we need to trust the progressive champions in Congress to fight for and support the best deal they can get. Progressive Senators and Representatives overwhelmingly supported the "cliff" deal. They knew what they were doing.
I haven't lobbied Congress in a while, but I used to lobby there for progressive nonprofits. I participated in some painful deals. But knowing what I knew, they were the best deals we could get at the time.
So, who can rank-and-file progressives trust to play that role on the Hill today?
Sherrod Brown? Al Franken? Jeff Merkley? Mark and Tom Udall? Sheldon Whitehouse? Ron Wyden? Hey, they ALL voted for the "cliff" deal.
How about John Kerry? Barbara Mikulski? Ben Cardin? Herb Kohl? Carl Levin? Patty Murray? Chuck Schumer? Pat Leahy? They ALL voted yes. Only three Senate Democrats voted no.
In the House, if our champions, the Progressive Caucus, had voted against the "cliff" deal, it would have lost. But they voted FOR it.
Raul Grijalva, Keith Ellison, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Chellie Pingree, Donna Edwards, Barney Frank, Dennis Kucinich -- they ALL voted yes. By my count, members of the Progressive Caucus voted 63 to 7 in favor of the deal.
Friends, the deal sucks because the Republicans suck. President Obama and the Democrats did the best they could under the circumstances. Clearly that's what the overwhelming number of our progressive champions in Congress believe. We will all keep fighting for justice; let us keep our focus on that.