I’ve been patiently waiting for the Democrats in the House and Senate to see what is right before their eyes. I admit, I’ve hoped for nearly two years that would see it—and act upon it. Compromise is a futile strategy for change—at least it is in this particular Congress, where majority rule has been supplanted by super-majority rule; where 60 votes is required to pass anything and everything. It seems that a 51-vote majority is just sooo yesterday. (And yes, I know it’s been used by both parties, but it is simply shameful the way in which it has been used these past two years—an abuse of the rule’s intent.)
I know that the House has tried. It’s passed many bills that have gotten stuck in the surreality of this 60-votes-equals-majority Senate. And, to be sure, much blame falls on the Senate Democratic leadership.
For some reason, what is crystal clear to Democratic (and many Independent) voters is invisible to the party’s political leaders. So, I shall say it here, joining the voices of so many others—bloggers and editorial page types, commentators and policy wonks.
Hear ye Democrats: you cannot win by compromise—not in 2010; you cannot implement policy by compromise. It takes two to compromise, and your only potential partner refuses to play along. The Republicans have been adamant to deny Democrats any sort of policy victory by forcing them to compromise the teeth out of any piece of legislation to come before Congress (particularly the Senate) and then refusing to support even the most watered down end product has been the Republicans’ strategy for two years. It’s not likely to change.
And even with all the compromise and practical begging of the republicans to join in Obama’s vision of bipartisanship, the Democrats have gained nothing and have lost the zeal of the base. The Republican strategy has been clear (and no big secret): “Just say NO.” And it seems to be working.
As we wend our way into the final weeks of this midterm election campaign, the Republicans are poised to win big. Why? It’s not like voters are longing for the good old days of George W. Voters are frustrated and angry. And the anger is directed toward the party in power—and rightly so. Had the Democrats been bolder and less interested in one or two Republican votes (especially after it became clear that it just wasn’t going to happen), we might not be having this conversation right now. The American public that elected Obama and a Democratic House and Senate were ready for change—big and bold change, not the incremental, gruel served up. We expected better; we expected more.