Beltway Spin Podcasts

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Democrats Problems Are Not Just The White House

There is the United States Senate and the arcane rules that Republicans, over the recent years, have used to block good legislation that would have benefited average Americans. The rules of the Senate have been so misused that having the majority of Senators supporting a piece of legislation is no longer enough to get it past. Now thanks to how Republicans have used misused Senate rules, a super majority (60 votes), is now needed to pass every single piece of legislation. What's worse is just one Senator can block an entire piece of legislation. The Senate has become a place where good legislation "goes to die."

Yet, how many times have we heard repeated in the corporate media how the democrats can do what they like legislatively? That never was a correct assessment because of the "big tent" in philosophy that exists within the democratic party. Look no farther than Saturday's vote on tax cuts for the middle class only. Five members of the Senate that caucus with the democrats voted against each of the two bills for whatever reasons. On one of those bills the members were Joe Manchin ( WV), Webb (VA), Lieberman (CT), Fiengold (WI), and Nelson (NE).

Because of the sixty votes required to pass every single bill the Republicans put into place, all it takes is just one person to sabotage a bill. This is the very reason why strong leadership is needed in the White House to be able to deal with that reality. How does any POTUS overcome this? Employ the same or similar strategy that LBJ utilized to pass major legislation like the Voting Rights Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Bill which ended the longest filibuster in history. How did LBJ do this? First, he was convinced that discrimination was morally wrong and wanted change to lead to economic, political, and spiritual reintegration of the South within the nation. This belief lead LBJ to fight for what he believed was morally right and by doing this, making his strong case for this belief to this nation and to the United States Congress, and making some deals with a few Congressmen to sway some votes, he was able to end the longest filibuster in history and win passage of important bills.

The ability to publicly fight and make a case for what you believe to the American people and to the United States Congress cannot be underestimated and is what I believe are the qualities that are missing from this current administration right now in these legislative battles that occurring right now. In LBJ's case he did not have the majority of the general public on his side on these issues, yet he was still able to get them passed by sheer conviction, a little "horse trading", and by exhibiting strong leadership skills.

Today the POTUS, unlike LBJ, on countless issues have had the majority of the general public on his side on the issues and yet they are unnecessarily losing legislative battles like this tax cut debate. Why? The inability to lead based on your convictions for what you believe is right for this nation and to draw a line in the sand on things you will not compromise on. A current example of this are the republicans on the issue of tax cut extensions for the wealthy. They have been unified and their message, even though it is wrong, has been unyielding in the face of democrats who are presenting splintering views amongst themselves on the subject.

If the White House can recognize that the strategy they have been employing is ineffective and not working for them, they have a chance to correct the course and reclaim control of policy debates that critically effect our nation. Only if the White House starts providing clear messaging and strong leadership, can they start to effect the votes of congress men and women the way LBJ was able to successfully do. If they adopt this approach they have a chance to recapture the public's support and win re-election in 2012.

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