Immigration Rights for Asians, Reproductive Rights for women, Employment non-Discrimination for LGBT, Labor Rights for workers, and Voting Rights for Hispanics: in each case the Right-wing has been anti-Rights.
From a legislative and messaging standpoint, Democrats haven't done all that we can. I wish my former Speaker would revolutionize the power of the minority in the House the way her Senate minority leader counterpart has revolutionized the power of the minority in the Senate. By now the public should understand the concept of a discharge petition as much as they understand the filibuster. Unfortunately, Democrats have failed to put the Anti-Rights Right-wing on record.
Here's how it works: those who sign the Discharge Petition (even if it doesn't get the required 218 signatures to bring a bill to the floor) are clearly in favor of passing a bill and have their name on record supporting it, whereas those who don't sign the petition are opposed to the bill and have earned all the attack ads their opposition might garner.
Speaker Boehner, the modern Richard Russell
"For almost a century, the filibuster was the South's weapon of choice in its efforts to protect Jim Crow from federal interference... Southern Senators had succeeded in perpetuating Black subjugation in ways that mere violence never could. The filibuster hadn't just stopped bills. For many Blacks in the South, the filibuster had snuffed out hope."- President Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope (pg. 81)
Boehner doesn't want a vote on Immigration Reform, ENDA, Raising the Minimum Wage, Universal Pre-K, repairing the Voting Rights Act? Fine -- start a discharge petition and get House members on record who support those items. After all, don't Asian immigrants deserve a chance at citizenship; don't LGBT deserve workplace protections; don't workers deserve a more livable income; don't we need to invest in the educational aspirations of our next generation; and don't Hispanic and female voters deserve the right to vote without discriminatory hurdles?
Boehner doesn't want a vote on background checks? Fine -- start a discharge petition and get House members on record who support it. After all, doesn't Gabrielle Giffords deserve a vote?
2014 Seats in Play and Demographics at Work
Here's what the Cook Political Report has indicated in regards to the seats in play next year.
However, here are the seats in areas with increasing numbers of Asian and Hispanic voters.
Asians and Hispanics will be 50 percent of new voters for 21 GOP districts in 2014. They will be 40-49 percent of new voters for 10 districts and 30-39 percent of new voters for 32 other districts.
That's 63 Republican controlled districts in which many new voters will care about where their Congressperson stands on issues of Immigration Reform, Voting Rights, and ENDA. Moreover, that number is only going to increase in 2016, 2018, and in Hillary Clinton's 2020 re-election.
We should have discharge petitions in the House in 2014 to get legislators on record. The more we do it the more that MSNBC, Jon Stewart, and other media outlets will cover it and explain what a discharge petition is (just as they've explained the filibuster the past few years). Then, if House Republicans go nuclear and try to abolish the discharge petition to protect their members, they will have explicitly done so to in order to kill immigration reform -- to kill raising the minimum wage -- to kill Universal Pre-K. That would give Voto Latino, DSCC, DCCC, OFA, Ready For Hillary, and other groups even more devastating ads to use.
District vs. Deliberation: Moderated Mediation Analysis
A final reason to use discharge petitions to ensure we get Republicans on record as being opposed to Immigration Reform and other initiatives (if they refuse to sign) is that in 2012 they were rewarded electorally for their partisan deliberations in 2009-2010 and 2011-2012.
Using the DW-Nominate data from my Sex and Compromise article, I assessed Representatives' partisanship scores from the 111th and 112th Congresses, as well as the electoral margins of victory for Obama-McCain and Obama-Romney in their districts. I predicted that the district-by-district margins on 2008 would predict the margins in 2012, but that this relationship may be mediated by legislators' behavior. (For any curious wonks out there, I used Dr. Andrew Hayes' PROCESS macro for SPSS to run the analysis; all variables were mean-centered)
Predictor: 2008 Election
Mediator: Partisanship in 111th or 112th Congress (2 separate models)
Outcome Variable: 2012 Election
Groups: Democrats (men and women) and Republicans (men only, because there weren't enough GOP Congresswomen for an adequate analysis).
Results: For Democrats, the 2008 election margin per district was the only significant predictor of the 2012 margin. Partisanship in the intervening years had no significant effect for men or women.
For Republican men, partisanship in 2009-2010 (β = .07, p = .01) and 2011-2012 (β = .07, p = .003) partially mediated the direct effect of the 2008 election results on the 2012 election results. Moreover, 5000 90 percent bias-corrected bootstrapped samples found that the indirect effect of partisanship was positively related to increases in the margins of victory in Republican districts in 2012.
Basically, Republicans were rewarded for their increased partisanship and Democrats weren't (which calls into question the desire among some Dems to mimic the Tea Party and have the weight of our party shift far-left).
The only way Republicans will no longer be rewarded for increased partisanship is if they have to be accountable to voters whose Civil Rights are at stake. This is why it is imperative that Democrats reach out to Asian voters (which we did a pathetic job of doing all 2013), Hispanics, and naturalized immigrants. Democratic activists must press our House leaders to begin Discharge Petitions and include the names of signatories (and those who refuse to sign) in all those emails they send everyday. This is how we ensure people know who supports and who opposes their desire to have greater equality, even if Boehner refuses to give our Civil Rights a vote.