What to Do If You're Unhappy With Washington

The only way to give the change America voted forchance is not just a mere majority, but a supermajority. And that means more Democrats elected.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

The other night, I had dinner with Milton Kayle. There's a point to mentioning this. He's a former presidential speechwriter and special assistant -- to Harry Truman.

During the meal, a guest mentioned disappointment that Barack Obama hadn't gotten more legislation through Congress. "Roosevelt and Truman would have," they insisted. It was at that point that Mr. Kayle acknowledged two major differences: "Harry Truman had wonderful cooperation from Republicans," he said. "He never would have been able to pass the Marshall Plan and Point Four Program without it," referencing the humanitarian-aid programs that helped save a starving, impoverished Europe. And then he added one other thing, too often easily overlooked:

"Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman only needed a majority of votes in their Senate. President Obama requires a supermajority of 60."

Certainly, despite significant gains, there is a disappointment among Democrats over Obama and Congress. But the disappointment is that most gains haven't gone far enough. Any unhappiness for Democrats about health care isn't that reform passed, but that coverage should be far more extensive.

Republicans have been upfront about their intent to obstruct any legislation that Obama wants, no matter how much it might benefit even their own constituents.

Consider that only two weeks ago, a stimulus bill to extend financing tens of thousands of jobs was filibustered by Republicans, and it died.

Consider the unprecedented and almost-comic blockage that the GOP has choked the U.S. justice system with. Audrey Flessig's nomination was held up for four months -- yet when it finally got voted on, she was approved... 90-0. Barbara Milano Keen's appointment was also obstructed for months -- eventually she was confirmed 99-0.

Because today a majority is no longer enough to pass legislation, Democrats have found themselves relentlessly blocked or forced to make galling compromises.

Consider that conservative Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), from the Tea Party corporations, has admitted putting a hold on everything before the Senate the past two years.

Consider all the obscure rule maneuvers Democrats needed just to get minimum health-care reform passed. Consider the compromises Democrats had to make to get any Wall Street reform passed. Consider the battle by Democrats to extend tax cuts for everyone in the country, as Republicans hold it up for income more than $250,000.

All because Democrats in the Senate "only" have 59 votes out of 100. All because Democrats are one vote short of a filibuster-proof 60.

As a result, the country has come to a grinding halt: Money to spur the economy has been blocked. Jobs bills have been blocked. Single-payer health care blocked. Meaningful Wall Street reform blocked.

Blocked. Even though Democrats have the president, even though Democrats widely control the House, and even though there are 59 Democrats in the Senate. Democrats were one vote short in the Senate.

Americans grow up in the schoolyard knowing "majority rules." Except -- it doesn't in the U.S. Senate. And so, the country stops working. Literally. Because Republicans can filibuster and block everything.


One vote.

Think your vote doesn't matter? One vote short. It matters.

Let's play a game for a moment. Imagine the Democrats had that 60th vote in the Senate, to go along with the presidency and their majority in the House.

That thought might make Republicans and far right Tea Party corporations cringe, but for the rest of America -- independents, undecideds, moderates, progressives, all the rest -- just take that moment to imagine what that one extra vote would mean:

Full health-care reform. Serious Wall Street reform. Extending the jobs stimulus bill, saving tens of thousands of workers. Don't Ask, Don't Tell finally repealed. Elizabeth Warren officially approved as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Unemployment insurance extended without political games blocking it for the needy.

Just imagine. One more vote in the Senate.

To progressives who aren't yet "energized" this election, that more than anything should be plenty enough to caffeinate them.

To independents angered by Washington gridlock -- that more than anything should demonstrate that gridlock occurs when the minority is able by rule to block the majority, that today a "super-majority" is required to do what a mere majority accomplishes everywhere else in life.

And once one recognizes all that, an unexpected reality becomes clear: that the way to reinvigorate the country you want is not by sitting on the sidelines or "throwing the bums out"... but, in fact, it's the very opposite -- it's by voting for more Democrats, rather than fewer.

Consider: On 2008, Americans voted for change by electing Democrats to control the White House, Senate and House. Some of that desired change did come, but most didn't because it was blocked by Republicans. Relentlessly blocked. Blocked by Senate rule. Because Democrats were one vote short.

If anyone other than the far right wants to see that 2008 mandate for America finally occur, allowing the nation to work like it's supposed to and dig itself out of the Bush past, the only way is to vote to give Democrats the majority America thought it was giving them two years ago.

But Republicans have shown that, today, a majority is not enough. Republicans have shown that to move America, to give it that change it did believe in, a supermajority is needed.

Republicans did this to themselves. They told you they will vote against anything Obama presents. Anything. Jobs stimulus. Wall Street reform. Health care. U.S. Attorneys. Repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- supported by 78% of Americans. Everything. And since Obama continues to be president of the United States, despite the prayers of birthers, they have told you that their platform is gridlock. They have told you that voting Republican in November will only solidify that very gridlock the rest of America is desperate to get past.

Gridlock may be grand to the Grand Old Party, but the rest of America seems to want to get moving forward again.

That's why, for all the anger and disappointment, for all the cries to throw all the bums out, the solution to getting America working again -- the only solution, the only way to give the change America voted for any chance, the only way to get around the lockdown gridlock the GOP has pledged to America -- is not just a mere majority, but because Republican actions to filibuster and block everything have demanded it... a supermajority. And that means more Democrats elected.

Even if it's just one more.

Popular in the Community


What's Hot