So a Republican won Teddy Kennedy’s seat in the Senate last night. This kills the Democrats’ 60 seat super majority, though it’s worth reminding people that they still have a majority, and only 51 votes are needed to pass legislation– I saw a few people claiming on Twitter last night that the Republicans now “control” the Senate, which is completely untrue. They’re just now able to filibuster more easily, meaning it will be easier for them to waste everyone’s time keeping the Senate from voting on things. I’d like to remind the 59 remaining Democrats that Bush got more done with less of a majority than they have now, so I expect them to get shit done anyway, even without Coakley. Of course, knowing what spineless wretches the Democrats, particularly the Blue Dogs, are, I don’t have a whole lot of hope. Which brings me to a wonderful post by Ezra Klein on what Teddy Kennedy would say to the Democrats. Ezra writes:
For now, it’s worth observing that a Democratic Party that would abandon their central initiative this quickly isn’t a Democratic Party that deserves to hold power. If they don’t believe in the importance of their policies, why should anyone who’s skeptical change their mind? If they’re not interested in actually passing their agenda, why should voters who agree with Democrats on the issues work to elect them? A commitment provisional on Ted Kennedy not dying and Martha Coakley not running a terrible campaign is not much of a commitment at all.
Exactly. I’m generally a lock as a Democratic voter. Though people often ask me why I’m so quick to label myself one party or another, it’d be pretty silly not to call myself a Democrat when I agree with 99.9% of their platform. Still, I don’t see them as being particularly committed to that platform, what with people like Sen. Blanche Lincoln being bought and sold by large corporations and refusing work to pass her party’s agenda, basically a Republican except for party affiliation. As Ezra Klein continued:
Speaking of Kennedy, he anticipated this reaction back in 1980. On the eve of his defeat to Jimmy Carter, and Carter’s defeat to Ronald Reagan, he warned his supporters against letting electoral setbacks dampen their commitment to their cause. “If the Democrats run for cover, if we become pale carbon copies of the opposition, we will lose–and deserve to lose,” he said. “The last thing this country needs is two Republican parties.”
I worked hard to elect President Obama, because I want health care reform (honestly, I want Medicare for all, or some other universal system), I want action on climate change, I want financial regulation of banks and corporations, I want it to be easier for people to join unions, I want a diplomacy-based foreign policy, I want GLBTQ people to have full equality, I want women to have an unequivocal right to choose. But more and more, I see the Democratic party waffling on things I care about, failing to deliver even when they had a 60 seat majority (I mean, really, we couldn’t get HCR before Coakley and Brown went before the voters?), and I’m beginning to think I might not be so willing to tow the party line in the voting booth anymore. I think I’m going to have to start working harder to get real Progressives into office, which is a major reason to be glad I’m moving back to Arkansas, where there’s at least one Senate seat and one House seat up for grabs. If we don’t get real health care reform before I get back, I’m going to be mad as hell.
Which brings me to one final observation. Last night on Twitter, I saw more than a couple of people who currently have government-run health care (be it through the military or Medicare/caid) claiming that they hate the health care they currently have, and that’s why they oppose health care reform. Beyond the fact that for every person you find hating on the VA or Medicare/caid, you could find 3 who love the care they receive from those programs, it strikes me something like this: they have cake. They’re sitting there chowing down on cake, and there are people with no cake all around them. The people with no cake ask for some cake, they want some too. Oh no, say the cake eaters, this cake is terrible! It would be so much better if it were chocolate! You’re better off with no cake! And then the people with no cake cry, BUT ALL WE WANT IS SOME CAKE! CAKE IS BETTER THAN NO CAKE AT ALL!