Change the Dang Rules! An Open Letter to Harry Reid (and Senate Dems)
Dear Senator Reid, et al:
There is a palpable sense of frustration in America today. Certainly much can be attributed to the economy, particularly the lack of jobs, but we’ll get to that in a bit. Generally speaking, there is a long history in this country of mistrust of government. Yet there are millions of us that believe deeply enough to put aside cynicism; to become involved, to give our time, money and resources to the cause of electing a government that we hope and pray will represent our wishes and deliver on our needs. I am just one of those millions, and I am a Democrat.
I desperately want you and the Democrats to be successful. I desperately want to see real change come to this country. And I desperately want it now. If Democrats can actually manage to implement the party platform and President Obama’s agenda, those polls we keep see sliding will not just stop sliding, but reverse. Bold progress can insure a Democratic majority for the foreseeable future.
Little or no progress, and you’ll lose the enthusiastic support of your base, even more than you’re currently experiencing. Why aren’t Progressives taking to the streets in support of the Senate’s work this term? Because we worked so hard to get you that 60 vote majority, just to watch it get hi-jacked by the likes of Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh and Max Baucus. Enact true progressive legislation, or there won’t be a massive small-donor grassroots movement in 2010 or 2012. Bust through the obstructionists, not just in the GOP, but in our own party, or the balance of power in DC will shift, and soon, very soon.
It’s easy to look at the civil war within the GOP and take the lesson that we should seek to avoid the same. But that doesn’t mean cow-towing to a handful of senators and allowing them to supplant the will of the entire nation. Obviously, we need a big-honking Health Care Reform bill with a robust public option that doesn’t throw women under the bus. We also need real financial reform; substantial consumer protections; an overhaul of education; action, not rhetoric on gay rights; and ding! ding! ding! the big crowd-pleaser: another stimulus package that actually concentrates on job creation and direct aid to states. Give people more social safety nets, financial security, economic and social justice and turn this economy around. It’s a tall order, I know, and in no way possible with current rules; but manage it and we will win for generations!
You’ve got to show, not just your own base, but the entire country that government is not broken and that Congress is more than a place where great ideas go to die. People are cynical about government, and why not? Nothing ever seems to get done. I’ve never been a supporter of term limits, but I’m starting to think it’s time to break up the Senate “club”, if camaraderie and decorum among members has become more important than advancing the will of the people.
72%. That’s the latest number on the percentage of people supporting the public option. But it’s a struggle for you to get 60 votes together to even bring it to a vote? Okay, we’ll deal with Lieberman in 2012. For now it’s time to change the rules.
I know that there are concerns about what happens when the Democrats are no longer in the majority. Undoubtedly that will happen – some day. But look at the state of the nation: how can a hypothetical “some day” be more important than right now? We’ve got to seize the opportunity now, while the GOP is in disarray. Let them be the party of “No”, let us be the party of “getting things done for a change!”
51 votes can change the rules of the filibuster. There are myriad ways to make that change: get rid of it all together (not like it’s in the Constitution, after all); drop the number of votes required; require actual debate or create a new system altogether (even Lieberman, ironically, has made such a proposal in the past.) The point is, you have the power and it’s time to wield it.
Sure, there will those that scream bloody murder about tyranny, dirty tricks, etc. But the GOP has taken the use of the filibuster to not just dirty, but obscene proportions. The American people will cheer the party that fights the good fight for the people, and says ‘yes’ instead of ‘no.’ I urge you to be bold & courageous. It will pay dividends for years.
If there was ever a time to earn your tag line, it is now. Give ‘em Hell, Harry!
Thank you for your time & service,