Governing Party Blues


It is surprising how little appetite for governing that many in our party have. Governing means making difficult decisions, challenging the status quo, deciding on new courses of action, and, importantly, making compromises — all on the road to actually passing legislation.

This is the job we signed up for, not the one where a butler appears and asks us what kind of world we want to live in today.

In our world, because governing entities are called upon to make hard and often unpopular choices, they are on the hook for what happens and are held responsible when what happens is nothing at all.

It seems to me more clearly than ever that many on our side prefer a religion to a grungy political party. But religions deal in platonic ideals and serve immutable truths. They give us goals to stride towards, all with the luxury of abstraction.

A political party is different. Its main goal is to increase the number of offices occupied by the party, so that it can pass legislation and move its agenda forward. Without passing legislation, there is little future for the party. Eventually, the members of the governing party will be voted out, leading to a downward spiral of decreased power, membership, and funding.

How many more hyperventilating emails must I endure where some progressive offers a petition: “Stop the healthcare bill because…”?

I’m confused. Isn’t that the other guy’s job? We need to ask ourselves: “Are we better off if this bill passes?” and “Can we change this later?”

A great deal has been said about budget reconciliation, a legislative technique that, based on Senate rules, can only be used for budgetary matters: changing outlays, and taxes. Reconciliation cannot be used to pass new industry regulations, for instance. Why not pass the flawed Senate Bill and use reconciliation to make necessary repairs? It can be done. Governing means using all the tools at our disposal – including trust in our leadership to make the system work for us.

Short of the elimination or modification of the filibuster rule (which would require even larger majorities), only a Senate supermajority has the ability to pass this kind of omnibus legislation. This is the current state of governing in America. If we want to change it, we have a clear path: elect more Democratic Senators. But a warning here: this does not mean finding the most ideologically pure candidates; rather we need to select candidates that have the best combination of support for the party’s goals and the ability to actually win.

As we watch the fortunes of the congressional Healthcare bill, we should all be reminded of the increasing importance of Connecticut’s SustiNet legislation passed this year. Having a Democrat as the next Governor will be essential for implementing that policy. Let’s pick a winner this time!

I heard an old African song on the radio recently that seemed appropriate here:

It will be hard, we know. And the road will be muddy and rough. But we’ll get there… We know we will.

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One comment

  1. Jean-Francois Jean

    I lost my religion to spirituality (practicality) and now, I find my political views subject to the same fate. I voted in the presidential election for Barack Obama because I believed him when he said it would not be business as usual. And, I truly believe he has tried his best to make good on that promise. But, because I am no longer living under the pink umbrella of my own naiive perceptions of the nature of American democracy and its corporate ownership, I will continue to hope yet cease to believe.
    I did not see too many options for the administration and the party in taking measures to right the wrongs perpretrated on the American people and the world by the last administration and greedy bankers and wall street operatives. The perceived repercussions to not bowing down to their extortive demands were just too great. I was encouraged to see Obama demand accountability, yet was discouraged to know he had left this accountability to the devices of bureaucratic ineptitude that has not experienced any “change” under his watch. And the banks have taken advantage of this because the president has not found ways to circumvent it. The same banks that were begging for treasury loans will not return the favor to stimulate American small business.
    We begin a pull out in Iraq (a hopeful moment for me) and we continue to fight in Afghanistan looking for a ghost (know one knows if bin Laden is even alive) without realizing our troops have the opportunity to destroy poppy fields which fuel some of the cheapest Heroin prices ever on the streets of America.
    It seems Obama’s hope for change was lost in the fog of the Democratic Party’s own narcissistic myopia because of the fillibuster-proof majority it “enjoyed”. Too bad the only thing they did was celebrate it, wave it like a flag in Republican faces, when they should have “ruled” as a majority. That is the nature of democracy. The majority “rules”, not makes nice to a bunch of people who cannot see past their own bank accounts when thinking about what is best for the health of its poorest citizens whose turnout in the last election was higher than can be remembered.
    Those same citizens voted their hope-filled conscious in solidarity for a man whose hope-filled message resonated into real faith that change was at hand. I saw the end had already been reached when Pres. Obama did not demand the “public option”. It was a sign that “old business” was at work in Washington and the change would not be felt in the lives of those who most need it. Could the Democratic Party have enjoyed a better advantage than the one they have had with Pres. Obama’s election? Yes, if they would have worked their majority instead of the constant celebration over it.
    I’ll save my thoughts about stimulus and the state of America’s infrastructure and the lost opportunities to address this in the face of appeasing Wall Street and banks. Pres. Obama has a chance to embark on the largest public works project since Pres. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” first pissed conservatives off to this point of their heartless socialist paranoic evolution. It is all about securing this country’s future first for me.

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