The following is a guest column from our old friend Dan, a “front pager” from the RK days.
The Republican Party in the U.S. Congress has a simple strategy: Force the Democrats to cave or nothing at all gets passed. They are willing to hold out as long as possible. You know why? They aren’t afraid to lose elections. They aren’t afraid to do what is unpopular. As long as it benefits the wealthy donors and corporate interests that finance their campaigns, why should they compromise?
Emboldened by the electoral victories in the 2010 mid-term elections, Republicans aren’t afraid of getting voted out of office. They can do whatever they want without fearing public backlash.
Simply put, their strategy works.
Is it destructive? Yes. Does it put America on a fast track to economic ruin? Yes. But that doesn’t matter. No matter how bad the economy struggles, wealthy people and large corporations in America will survive. Why? Because they can sell products overseas and do business overseas. Desperate workers in America simply give them a labor force more willing to accept longer hours, less pay, and reduced benefits.
So, what are the Democrats to do?
They are trying to compromise. Compromise means doing whatever the Republicans want. Move further and further to the right. Abandon their principles. Put the nation greater into debt.
What do the Democrats get in return? Scorn from their party base. Greater deficits. A show of weakness. Few if any electoral victories.
Do Democrats really think caving will get them re-elected?
It won’t. Caving never does. The Democrats are getting bullied into signing onto to bad policy that will increase the deficit, alienate foreign allies, and create greater problems down the road. This isn’t bipartisanship, it is ritual suicide! Why would anyone be inspired to vote for that? Just because Republicans are worse? If Democrats go along with Republicans on everything, are they really any better?
Ultimately, Democrats have one option. They have to call the Republicans bluff. If Republicans want to block everything, and Congress shuts down, so be it. If Democrats try to get things passed and Republicans block it, who do you think the American people will blame?
The Democrats should vote for what they believe is right. No tax cuts for millionaires, and end to DADT, tax credit extensions for renewable energy, the START Treaty (backed by the military establishment and by most conservatives with any military credentials). The list goes on and on of popular stances – like food safety, financial reform implementation, etc, etc.
Put the votes on the floor and let Republicans say no. Stop compromising as Bill Maher says where the Republicans draw a line in the sand further and further to the right and create a new middle. At least Democrats can say they tried. Think of all of the popular legislation Republicans will be on the record as voting against? The Middle Class, the unemployed, 9/11 relief workers, deficit reduction, nuclear disarmament, food safety, the environment! In Missouri, state legislators were even against the humane treatment of puppies! Seriously puppies: http://www.reuters.com/article…
If the Democrats don’t cave, the EPA will be regulating CO2 under the Clean Air Act. While not ideal, at least that will force large polluters into taking action to reduce emissions. And the Democrats tried to have a less intensive regulatory regime, but Republicans blocked it. Besides, it was placed into law by a conservative Supreme Court.
If taxes go up for everybody, is that the fault of Democrats? No. The Republicans raised everybody’s taxes. Sure they will blame Democrats, but they have no merit to do so. It is like an arsonist setting a fire and then blaming his neighbor for not putting it out.
Democrats have to get used to the fact that even with huge majorities, legislation will be blocked. The Republicans have no interest in supporting anything that solves any problems. They want their way, and aren’t afraid to vote against popular legislation to get it. This is the best time to expose them for this craven strategy and put pressure on the Republicans to compromise. This is the only way Democrats can truly get anything done.