Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dems Will Be Unable to Change Course Of War Until 2008

I'm convinced that most Americans don't have a good grasp of how the US Congress works. Frustration grows among antiwar activists, rank and file Democrats and independents who voted for Democrats in the 2006 elections. Anger with the inability of the party to bring about the US military withdrawal from Iraq grows.

The problem apparently lies in the general lack of proper civics classes in American schools. Few men or women in the street understanding the predicament Democrat Senate Leader Reid and House Speaker Pelosi face when they are forced to work with ineffective majorities in both houses of Congress.

I want to throw up ever time I hear someone refer to how badly the congress is doing in public opinion polls. Something like 11% think the Congress is doing a good job. It's become an effective Republican talking point. It sells well with the masses but reflects the aforementioned lack of understanding of the internal workings of the US Congress that has led to the perception out there that the Democrats are obstructionist and ineffective. Even old time democratic loyalist are starting to believe the spin.

As frustrating as it may seem the Democrats simply lack the votes to pass the necessary legislation to stop the war or any other legislation that is strongly opposed by the right.

With a 51-49 split in the Senate and Loopy Senator Lieberman and Dick Cheney controlling the balance or power you should begin to get the picture. The often referenced 60 vote majority is considered to be bullet proof in the Senate. The house is split 233-202 in favor of the Democrats.

It may start to sink in with Cindy Sheehan, the Code Pink crowd and the rest of us eventually. Metaphorically speaking I hope its before we end up eat our young.

Heck, the Democrat leadership couldn't even muster the needed votes in the House to override the veto by the child hating President of the widely popular bi-partisan publicly popular Children's Medical Health Plan.

Much of the constipation is due to the continuing Republican ability to maintain voting discipline among it's minority party members on important policy and ideologically based legislation. The democrats certainly cannot claim the same discipline within its caucus, especially in the House. Often Democrats from conservative districts find themselves voting with the Republicans when the issue reflects the make up and desires of their right leaning constituents.Saving the possibility of some sort of totally unforeseen major political catastrophe or other event bringing about a sea change in Republicans Congressional thinking the Democrats power will remain limited.

Those that really want to see fundamental change in this country must begin to work to elect effective majorities in both house of Congress and a Democratic President in 2008.


Democrats do control the committee, subpoena and rules processes. They have made excellent progress in returning Congress to it role as a investigative watchdog. But passing contentious legislation is another matter entirely.

Some would argue the Democrats should just refuse to consider any war funding legislation. This could backfire because many conservative democrats would bolt. Most Democrats now fear that such a ploy would be perceived as not supporting the troops in the field and unless party discipline remained extremely strong the effort would most likely fail anyway given the makeup and current party head counts.

Walter Shapiro's extensive article at Solon.com puts forth the idea that real change will not come until the Democrats can take power in the 2008 elections. He argues that this should be the focus of those seeking fundamental changes.
"That is why angry antiwar activists should realize that their targets are no longer skittish congressional Democrats and Beltway insiders who are their counselors in caution. This is not the moment for guerrilla theater and mau-mauing the moderates. For the true struggle on the home front to end the Iraq war is no longer going to be waged in the chambers of Congress. The coming battleground instead is the familiar terrain of Ohio and Florida -- and the hearts and minds of the swing voters who will decide the 2008 election."


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