Friday, January 22, 2010

Memo to the Democrats

OK, nothing very original in this post, but hey, I'm a busy law student. I don't have time.

To the Democrats: No, it wasn't because you moved too far too fast or pushed too far to the left. No, you wouldn't have gotten bipartisan cooperation if only you hadn't asked so much. And no, having a different order of priorities would not have made the slightest difference. And, finally, no, the Republicans are not going to be the least bit more cooperative now that they've tasted blood and are closing in for the kill.

What did you do wrong. Two things. (1) You were Democrats. (2) You were in power. In that you violated the 28th Amendment that every Republican knows was passed during the Reagan Administration by Bruce Ackerman's informal Amendment process: "Republicans shall at all times be in power."

What could you have done differently? Well, you might have had a come-to-Jesus moment, changed your registration to Republican, and reported to Fox News for your marching orders. Short of that, nothing. No matter what you did, no matter how moderate or restrained, you would still have been denounced as wild-eyed leftwing extremists. It's a standard formula they trot out every time. They used it against Bill Clinton, the junkfood-eating Arkansas hillbilly from the centrist DLC, and they'll use it on you. Stop being a battered wife and trying to figure out you offended the abuser. And don't get silly ideas like that he'll change now, or it's different this time. Go out and take a self-defense class instead.

Granted, I may be overreacting. The news cycle is very short sighted and tends to project current trends indefinitely into the future. Why, just a year ago, conventional wisdom had it that the Republicans were divided, demoralized, and headed for decline. And I remember very well in 1995 people were writing epitaphs for the Clinton Administration as a failure and assuming that the Republicans has a complete free reign to pass anything they wanted, even though they didn't have a veto-proof majority.

It didn't work that way. Republicans did a great job of attacking Clinton and his agenda as dangerously radical, but when they actually tried to enact their own agenda, it turned out not to be very popular. Clinton reinvigorated his presidency by challenging the Republicans to a showdown and winning. Both came away from the encounter chastened and were able to work together to some degree. I actually thought the Republicans would conclude from that that there was such a thing as being too right wing. We all get these foolish delusions sometimes. But you have a lot more experience than I do, and less excuses.

So, maybe you'll have the chance to do it again. If so, the time to start is right now. Conventional wisdom already holds that when Senate Democrats outnumber Republicans 60-40, they hold a razor-thin advantage," and that when it shifts to Dems 59, GOP 41, Democrats have lost the "majority." Folks, I know that pundits have to keep their mouths moving or their brains may start working, but doesn't it indicate that something is the matter when holding a wide majority in the House, a 59-41 majority in the Senate and the Presidency are all dismissed as inconsequential compared to the Republican's 41-59 Senate lead?

For starters, don't fumble on the 5-yard line. No one respects a team that does that. Then, start offering up a lot of popular legislation and dare the Republicans to block it. Better yet, choose legislation that will be popular with independent swing voters but not the Tea Party base and force the Republicans to choose which group to piss off. Alternately, you could completely give up and let them sweep the 2010 election. I'm guessing that the Tea Party's message of taking a chainsaw to government will be wildly popular until they win elections and actually start to do it.

Of course, it that's your strategy, you'd better be prepared to actually roll up your sleeves and clean up the mess they make. This post (much repeated across the Left Blogosphere) rather strongly indicates that you are much too afraid of responsibility ever to actually stand up for your principles and try to govern.

If that's the case, then why on earth should anyone vote for you? Granted, the Republicans don't seem that interested in governing either, but at least they have the courage of their convictions and are ready to say so.

But if all you are interested in doing is tiptoeing around, trying to avoid offending the Republicans or taking any sort of responsibility, I would suggest changing your name. To the Cheese-Eating Surrender Party.

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