Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Exactly Right

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Democratic Party leaders, listen to Matt Yglesias.

I’d say the problem is that by failing to get serious about procedural issues, Democrats have created a gigantic credibility problem for themselves. Under modern conditions, it’s not realistic for a political party to obtain 75 Senate seats or whatever and then deliver policy accomplishments. Holding 59 or 60 requires a minor miracle. What you can realistically do is win a majority in congress, then expand that majority and also capture the White House and then maybe hold on to those majorities. That’d be an impressive electoral achievement. But the events of 2009-2010 have made it painfully clear to everyone that under any realistic scenario for the 2010 elections the progressive vision is dead in the US Senate. There are all these policy ideas out there, from Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal to cap-and-trade to immigration reform to labor law reform. They could be stitched together into a bold vision for economic and social renewal. Except everyone knows you’re not going to get 60 votes for that stuff.

And so by failing to become vocal about procedural reform and demonstrate some seriousness about getting things done, the party leaders have created a situation where they can’t make any promises to anyone besides “if we do well we’ll negotiate with the Senators from New England but if we do badly we’ll have to negotiate with Lindsey Graham.” The economy and the burdens of incumbency were naturally going to make this a tough midterm, but as long as key senators are stuck in the mental fog of proceduralism, they just can’t articulate a compelling vision.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 23, 2010 at 12:51 pm

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