It’s simple and as clear as ever - filibuster reform is the most crucial thing in American politics right now.
John Boehner has lost control of the House. It's partially true that he never really had control. RedState is calling for his head. The extreme right-wing conservatives are crowing about embarrassing him on his “Plan B”, the same “Plan B” that was all a gimmick and bargaining showpiece. The same “Plan B” that already was under a veto threat and Harry Reid promised to never bring up in the Senate.
John Boehner, in the wake of his shameful defeat, has called on Congress to break with long-standing tradition (and a possible legal challenge) and for Harry Reid and the senate to negotiate a compromise, that I assume will be voted on in the house.
If the Senate is actually able to get something through with 60 votes, or demand an up or down on a generally democratic package (even if it has bullshit like the chained CPI in it) it sets a strong, important new precedent. It also puts Nancy Pelosi in a significantly stronger bargaining position in the future.
If the deal can't get done, it's an even bigger argument for filibuster reform. But I suspect that something will pass in the senate.
Either way, the filibuster must be reformed. And Harry Reid, as majority leader, must follow his own precedent and start passing major legislation and dare the House not to vote on it. If they don't vote on it, they will be the do-nothing congress. If they do vote on it, and only a handful of Republicans (or even a sizable amount of Republicans) vote for Democratic legistlation, a serious campaign can be mounted against the arch-conservatives.
Finally, the Republican Party will have been fractured, and a right-center caucus will be set up against the far-right caucus. Already we've seen this happen in the "influence peddler" organizations. DeMint saw the writing on the wall and got the hell out of the Senate, where he knew his influence was waning. Normally I would never praise the intellect of Jim DeMint, but in this case, I think it might be warranted.
But it’s what happens next that is the most interesting and potentially exciting. Follow after the jump to find out.
I’m not going to throw out some nonsense about 11-dimensional chess or any of that. I’m just pointing out what the possibility is, and the evidence that it is coming.
President Obama "has fundamentally shifted his view of modern presidential power" and "is now convinced the most essential part of his job, given politically divided Washington, is rallying public opinion to his side. As a result, if he wins a second term, Mr. Obama plans to remain in campaign mode."And what would that look like? We already have some more hints. Most notably, Organizing for America's continued existence and the hagiographies being written about "the list".
Obama has already talked about how change comes from outside Washington, not inside it. It was trumpeted by the right-wing echo chamber as a “gaffe”, but I think Obama really means it. Make some addresses to the nation. Make people pay attention. Take the weekly youtube video and put it on TV, buy a DirecTV channel, think outside the box a little bit. It’s a strategy that can work, and certainly will get people interested. Journalists will eat it up, writing procedural stories, historical perspectives and various editorials about it on Sundays (and pontificating on the Sunday shows). Republicans will whine and complain and make a lot of noise, but that really didn’t matter much in this last election, as I’m sure you remember.
Obama could go out to states and give speeches on the major pieces of legislation, draw big crowds and make a lot of news. They could do it in a full on blitz, like the first 100 days of FDR. Or they could do it more slowly, over the course of two years. The amount of basic policy that polls well in the country is staggering. Gun Control, further Healthcare fixes, Immigration...the list goes on. What's crucial is the 2014 elections, and drawing a clear contrast between the two major parties.
After that...who knows? It seems clear that what is needed is a big shift back to the left. The Progressives should caucus more strongly together, and hold the line internally on major pieces of legislation after 2014. Before then, it's most important to build the Democratic brand as the only one that actually has any idea how a country is supposed to be run. After 2014, if the majority shifts, Progressives should be emboldened to run under the Progressive Party, a Working Families Party, or something like that.
But what about the supposedly Republican districts that cannot possibly be flipped (due to redistricting and such)? Democrats ran a few tests this year, and won a few times and got very close at other times. Allen West was defeated. Michelle Bachmann was almost defeated. Young, intelligent veterans, with unimpeachable credentials and progressive minds are coming of age and starting to enter the candidate pool. More of them will run in two years. Even more will run two years after that.
The capacity for real structural change to the institution of congress is within the grasp of the American people, and the Democrats in the Senate. Now is the time to make your voice heard to your Democratic Senator. Make sure they know that this is important. Fill up their voicemails, flood their inboxes, make the fax machine run out of paper, fill up the office with mail - whatever you can think of.