Maybe I'm just stupid. Maybe I'm naive, maybe I don't understand "how Washington works," or what the politics behind the procedures are, but I know one thing.
I was told starting in third grade history class that the Senate makes laws on a majority vote. Which right now, if I remember my third grade math correctly too, is FIFTY SENATORS.
Not 60. Not 59, or 53, or any other number. 50. And after they seat Franken (whenever that happens,) 51.
Anyone care to explain this to me?
Now, I'm not entirely ignorant. I understand the procedure dictates that a three fifths' majority (or 60 votes) is required to invoke cloture and prevent a filibuster of any given piece of legislation. I get that in the current climate, the GOP minority will stop at nothing to block legislation they consider unacceptable. (Which is, of course, ALL of it.) And in the interest of not appearing overly partisan, or keeping everyone happy, or whatever, we are not interested in even bringing up legislation unless it has those 60 votes.
My question is: Why? Why on earth is the Democratic Party conducting business this way? One idea is not wanting to tarnish our image for 2010, when we'll theoretically pick up enough seats to have a true cloture-proof majority. That sounds fine on paper, but it reeks of counting our chickens. There's a very real possibility that if we don't do something NOW, that we'll lose, not gain seats in the next election. If we don't help the voters, we won't get their votes.
I saw a guy on the side of the road the other day, he had fallen off his bike and taken a pretty bad spill. Bleeding from his hand and badly from his leg, probably from a piece of glass or something on the road. There was a nice lady there already, driving a crappy car that was probably worth half what his Carbon-Fiber Cervelo cost. She had a towel compressed over his leg, and we helped the guy out, let him use the phone, etc, until a couple of his friends showed up to ride with him to the hospital and gather up his bike and stuff.
America is on the side of the road bleeding right now, and Senate Democrats are the guys driving past to the injured rider, wringing their hands and hoping the paramedics show up in 2010. We're afraid to hurt the patient, afraid to get sued if we try to help, afraid of everything. We need to be the lady who stops and HELPS.
This is not what I fought for. This is not what I went door to door for in the 100 degree, 100% humidity in the South Florida summer. This is not acceptable.
Back to Procedure. The idea is we're trying to avoid a filibuster, right? And a filibuster looks pretty much like this:
(note: I have no idea who this guy is, but it was the only thing I could find that illustrated the point.)
Someone tell me why making them earn it is a bad idea. Furthermore, someone tell me what would draw a better distinction, what would describe the essential difference between Democrats and Republicans than forcing them to get up there and talk, getting them to filibuster Card Check or health care or whatever, letting it go on 8 hours or so until prime time, and then having President Obama break into every network with a special announcement. He'd appear on a split screen, opposite Inhofe or McConnell or whoever they had rambling up there, and say to America:
"Look folks. I'm here tonight because we're trying to pass a law that will help you get a job. A law that will benefit the middle class by pushing us in the right direction, a law that moves America forward. And the other man you see on your screen wants to prevent it. That man, because of his ideology, wants to make me look ineffective, wants this Presidency and this country to fail so he can get re-elected in a couple years by complaining we didn't do anything. He is preventing the change we need, right now, live on TV. I'm not willing to accept that. Are you?"
Can you imagine? So I say it again: Why are we doing this? What is in it for us? And whatever might be in it for us, is it really worth endangering the future of this Party and the whole Country? Can we afford to do that?
The Republicans got whatever they wanted for 8 years, and they did it without 60 votes. Democrats won the last election because the American people want someone in there to fight for them, and they damn sure don't care if we do it politely. Senate Dems are squandering an opportunity to do just that. This is not a PR battle we have to lose, we're in the right, and trying to do the peoples' business and clean up a tremendous mess.
Make them earn it. I'll mail them a phone book myself.
EDIT: The following link gives a pretty decent synopsis of why I'm barking up the wrong tree here. Predictably, it's not the least bit satisfying or exciting.