I got another e-mail from desperately-trying-to-appear-relevant John Kerry on Wednesday afternoon, with a subject line "here's what I'm thinking" (no caps to begin the subject, which I guess proves Kerry's "net cred" or something?) It detailed the efforts of "team johnkerry.com" to write up an e-mail listing all the ways Republicans suck for blocking all the good and wonderful things Kerry and his ilk would love to do for the country, if only the Republicans didn't suck so bad. And did he mention that Republicans suck?
Wait a minute, aren't the Democrats in the MAJORITY now? Haven't they been for almost a full YEAR already?
Ah, but of course thanks to various Senate rules, individuals in that august body have a great deal of power to block action -- in many ways, each Senator sort of has veto power (that's an oversimplification and technically inaccurate, but the point is that individuals have great power to stop things from happening, not so much power to make things happen -- which, incidentally, is exactly how it should be...)
So being in the majority in the Senate doesn't necessarily mean that you can bully your agenda through without worrying about whose toes you've stepped on.
But OK, the point Kerry was trying to make is that the Democrats have this agenda that they want to push, but alas, the "Roadblock Republicans" (as he's fond of calling them, very catchy) are standing in the way.
He doesn't want to get into the details of all the "tricks" the Republicans are playing to block action (i.e., the way they're following the Senate rules to their advantage), because as he says, "You already know what's not getting done."
Furthermore, "[Y]ou're already feeling the impact of the good things these Republicans have stopped us from doing — on Iraq, on global climate change, on energy policy, and on children's health care."
Er.... how exactly does one "feel the impact" of something that DOESN'T happen?
But whatever. I understand that the good Senator is frustrated by the inability of his party to effect changes that he'd like to see, and of course I fully understand his desire to elect more Democrats to the Senate (much, but not all, of that negative power that individuals have in the Senate can be mitigated with a 60-seat majority; the Democrats currently hold a slim 51-49 effective majority). I disagree with his goals, but I don't fault him for having them.
The really interesting thing, though, is this paragraph early in his message (emphasis mine):
"I fought for 13 years in the minority to stop Republicans from doing bad things, we broke the bank in 2006 here at the johnkerry.com community to win a majority so we could make good things happen, but still the Republicans are standing in the way."
So here's what I'M thinking: Wow, that's CHUTZPAH!
He's complaining that after spending 13 years in the minority, by his own admission (really, it was more of a boast) actively trying to obstruct the agenda of the majority, now that he's in the majority it's a terrible thing that the other party can prevent some things from happening in the Senate. "Uh, hello, Kettle? This is the Pot..."
Furthermore, after lamenting the lack of progress in this Congress towards achieving the Democratic party agenda, what is Kerry's offered solution?
"You don't need another laundry list — you just need a roadmap to changing the Senate. And that starts by changing more Senators. Repeat what you did in 2006. Grow that majority."
So in 2006 we got a Democratic majority, which failed to deliver on all their promises. The best way to turn that around is to "change the Senate" by REPEATING what happened in 2006 and get more ineffective Democrats? What, the way to improve the situation is to "change" the Senate from a slim Democratic majority to a somewhat-less-slim Democratic majority? Big time change there, Senator!
Of course, what else is he going to say? But I just find it funny that the majority party has, for the past year, been acting as if it was still in the minority. It seems every time I turn around, there's a Democrat complaining about how the Republicans are standing in the way. Boy, if not for those dastardly Republicans thwarting their every move, those Democrats would have made America a bona fide Nirvana already...
One way around that problem is, of course, to get a big enough majority that you can actually ignore the concerns of the other party. It's gonna be tough for the Democrats to pick up 9 more seats in the Senate in 2008, though. In a local angle -- local to Oregon, anyhow -- Kerry named Jeff "Merkely" [sic] as one of the Democrats to target for a seat to pick up, hoping to oust current Oregon Senator Gordon Smith. (Tough luck, Steve Novick, guess you didn't suck up to the right people in the national party organization... though at least Kerry didn't spell your name wrong!)
The other, more desirable way to go would be to, I dunno, maybe COMPROMISE a bit on legislation to find approaches that are acceptable to everyone? Or at least to enough members of the other party to gain the support needed to push it through?
But then it seems that the Democrats are determined to prove that they can be just as obstinate as the Republicans were when they ran the show. Yippee for party parity!