The Democrats are so pathetic.
Their latest plea is that if Martha Coakley doesn’t win in Massachusetts today, they’ll lose their critical 60-seat Senate block and with it, health care reform.
It’s bullshit. If the Democrats wanted to pass health care reform, or anything else, they could do it today. Any time they wanted, with a simple majority vote, they could end the filibuster rule that enables Republicans to block legislation.
This is so simple, it’s useful to break it down the way a child might approach it.
Democratic Senator: Sorry, little girl, we can’t pass health care reform without 60 votes.
Child: In school they taught us there only 100 Senators. So don’t you need only 50 votes?
Dem: Yes, but there’s a Senate rule that allows the minority party to do something called a “filibuster,” and when they do, the majority party needs 60 votes to overcome it. Filibusters used to be rare, but now the Republicans do one for every bill we try to pass. Those meanies.
Child: Well, where did the rule come from?
Dem: The Senate passed it.
Child: By a majority vote? I mean, 50 Senators?
Child: Then don’t you need only 50 Senators to repeal it?
Child: I mean, if you think Republicans are meanies who aren’t being fair about the rule, why don’t you just change the rule?
Dem: That would make the Republicans really mad!
Child: So you’re afraid of them?
Dem: Of course not!
Child: Then why don’t you change the rule?
Child: I was afraid of bullies, too. But then I stood up to one and he backed down. You should try it.
The only thing my hypothetical child might be missing — and only because she’s so innocent — is that the Democrats might actually like the filibuster they’re always complaining about. Here’s a link that nicely lays out how the filibuster works and why the Democrats are motivated to keep it: essentially, because they can use it to excuse their failure to fulfill their promises to their constituents while simultaneously invoking mean Republican abuse of the rule in their fundraising efforts.
So are the Democrats cowards or cynics? I’m not sure. Sometimes, watching them, I see a study in learned helplessness — they’ve let themselves be beaten down so many times they just want to cringe in the corner and give up. Other times, I see the Stockholm syndrome — they want to lick the hands of the people who are punching them. Or maybe they do indeed know exactly what they’re doing — their “inability” to cope with those obstreperous Republicans is great for fundraising. Regardless, listening to them whine about how they can’t pass legislation because they don’t have 60 votes is like listening to a guy who says he can’t work because he’s wearing handcuffs — handcuffs he’s put on himself, and to which he’s holding the key.
Ironically, undergirding the cynicism and cowardice is stupidity. I doubt the average voter knows that much about the details of health care reform or any other proposed legislation or platform. Most people don’t choose a product because they really know the product’s features; instead, they make an emotional decision based on the product’s brand. At this point, the Republican brand is “bully.” Not good, you might think, because most people hate bullies. But the Democratic brand is “coward.” And looking out at a scary, uncertain world, a lot of people would rather be led by a bully than by a coward. Until the Democrats grasp this obvious, fundamental point, their fortunes will continue to come down to the results of single special elections, their turns in the White House to interludes between bouts of Republican incompetence so profound that desperate voters will temporarily grasp at any alternative. You can call this state of affairs a lot of things, but “prescription for getting things done” will never be one of them.
Between one party that’s “corrupt and inept,” and the other that’s “batshit insane,” what can be done? Digby has the best and most level-headed plan I’ve come across. Read it on Hullabaloo here.
P.S. Yesterday Scott Horton blew gigantic holes in the government’s attempt to cover up torture and murder at Guantanamo. Overseas papers are all over the story, but the American mainstream media won’t touch it. Make a difference — post, tweet, or forward Scott’s article and do what you can to make America a nation under the rule of law.