The only thing more ineffective than the Democrats are the Republicans… honestly, are we ever going to get an effective Congress again? I’m with Rangel on this - if the Senate is too scared to pass a bill for fear of a filibuster, pass it anyway and make the Republicans filibuster. I don’t think the Republicans, as disheveled and running for cover as they are, have the cojones to actually carry out a filibuster. I think, at times, the Senate Dems are using that as an example to avoid pushing through a bill that they think may be used against them in some way in the future, to avoid taking strong stands - “Oh, we can’t do anything! Those mean Republicans will just filibuster, so why even try?” Which is what a lot of the House Dems are thinking these days too, apparently.
The problem isn’t a filibuster, it’s Bush’s veto. The simple fact is the Dems in the house think and act like the last election was a mandate, but in reality, it wasn’t. The numbers say otherwise - it was a rebuke to Bush/Repubs, but far short of a mandate. They don’t have near the numbers in either the House or Senate to override a veto. So if they want to get stuff done, they’re going to have to compromise - either with the President, or with enough Repubs in the House or Senate to get something passed. To continue to pass legislation that they know will just be vetoed makes them look stupid and ineffectual.
They need to compromise until the presidential election hopefully sorts everything out. Things are rolling their way, they just need to be patient, rather than acting stupid as they are now.
It seems to me that this would be a giant bargaining chip for use in the elections of 2008. The Democrats could crow, and crow loudly, about how they tried to pass bills X, Y, and Z “for the children” but which the Republican President vetoed with the support of Republican congresscritters, &c.
Here’s the main problem with Democrats. Every time it looks like someone grew a spine:
WASHINGTON (AP) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lashed out at Republicans on Thursday, saying they want the Iraq war to drag on and are ignoring the public’s priorities.
“They like this war. They want this war to continue,” Pelosi, D- Calif., told reporters. She expressed frustration over Republicans’ ability to force majority Democrats to yield ground on taxes, spending, energy, war spending and other matters.
They immediately puss out:
Asked to clarify her remarks, Pelosi backed off a bit.
“I shouldn’t say they like the war,” she said. “They support the war, the course of action that the president is on.”
No, that was a stupid partisan remark. Most Americans are going to reject that kind of remark because they know it’s not true. People may disagree about the war, but most are not going to attribute such motives to one side or the other. Instead Pelosi looks needlessly partisan, whining because she can’t do squat.
Not to me. I’d much rather see them out there passing legislation that represents my interests even if they just get vetoed every single time. Hell, I’m not paying them by the hour and either way nothing gets done but if they keep trying to push through good legislation at least it becomes crystal clear who we need to blame for the lack of any progress. As it is now it looks like EVERYONE is stupid and ineffectual, Dems and Republicans alike.
I don’t logically follow how you arrive at the first point from the second one. I would give Congress much higher approval ratings if they were actually passing good legislation even if it got vetoed – perhaps the majority are, in fact, just like me and the lower approval ratings are because Congress appears to be doing nothing at all right now. I’d rather see them tilt at windmills and force the Administration to veto perfectly sane legislation than just sit around and do nothing, and I don’t think I’m alone.
What? What planet are you from? Bush and his cronies have redefined the partisan stance and have been untouchable for years because of it. I saw distressingly few Americans rejecting those kinds of remarks from 2002-2005. If you think Americans aren’t ready for some tough talk and action from the other side, you are wrong. That’s what got Democrats control of Congress in the first place.
Ninja edit: Besides, what is most called for right now is public partisan statements against the bullshit the Republicans have been pulling for the past 7 years.
On the congressional approval rating note, there was a previous thread discussing this - Congress always has a bad approval rating. Even with the fact that congress approval tends to trail presidential approval by a significant margin, Congress is at 53% while Bush is at 33%.
They aren’t being very aggressive, unfortunately.
That said, the more reading I do the less sure I am how much of it is their fault.
Low margin. The Democrats have 51/100 Senate seats and 233/435 house seats.
Lack of Democratic party unity. The GOP for the moment is a lockstep voting block, especially on Iraq. By contrast, the Democrats still have a huge pile of DINOs who side with the GOP all the damn time. Leiberman is the most egregious example.
Republican unity. Republicans aren’t softening their stance on Iraq regardless of non-Republican opinion numbers, because Republican primary voters, while lukewarm about it, don’t really give a shit. The GOP still approves of Bush’s handling of Iraq by 58% - and when you ask them to stack rank that issue with everything else, it’s not on the radar. GOP primary voters, fascinatingly, are most concerned with immigration, of all the incomprehensible things.
Media. The GOP has a entire alternate set of media to do their bidding. The Democrats can’t even get the New York Times to describe a failure to pass a bill as “Republicans blocking it” when it is, in fact, Republicans blocking it.
Systemic inertia. The government’s designed to make it hard to get any changes passed. Anything controversial requires a 60 seat margin in the Senate, for example.
Lack of public drive for a huge ideological change. While the public in general is incredibly unhappy with Iraq and health care, they haven’t turned into the socialists overnight. They apparently agree with the Democrats more now, but they aren’t going to the barricades about it.
Expanding on 6, there’s a real lack of ideological leaders pushing the Democratic philosophy and brand, which makes it hard to get traction and unify the caucus to push things. Pelosi and Reid are probably more of train conductors than they are leaders. Which is fine - most congressional leaders are historically that way. Because the Democratic superstructure of idea people and on-the-ground organizing is so weak after years of neglect, there’s not a lot of selling the ideas going on out there. The unions are practically dead, for one, and they built the FDR coalition era Democratic party. That leaves Presidents, which no one pays much attention to until one of the candidates wins a primary.