Yesterday I posted a short short diary essentially asking how progressives could promote Senator Tom Udall’s initiative to change the 60-vote filibuster rule. I acknowledged my lack of expertise on the subject and fortunately selise was kind enough to point me to multiple relevant FDL posts.
Anyone who believes the Democratic leadership is sincere when they use the 60-vote rule in the Senate as the reason progressive agenda items simply can’t be passed should read the authoritative FDL post on the filibuster and clouture by powwow. (Hell, anyone remotely interested in this issue should read powwow’s post.) I took time out to read it yesterday and would like to thank selise and powwow for the education I received.
The remainder of this post will make a lot more sense if you have the benefit of powwow’s briefing, so at the risk of losing you, I recommend you go read it now.
powwow asks "Why are the majority Democrats afraid or reluctant to force the Republicans to actually filibuster when they threaten to do so?", given the suppressed fact that it is totally within the Democrats power to call bullshit on this 60-vote nonsense.
So why doesn’t Senate Majority Leader Reid let the Republicans filibuster? Why don’t the Democrats force the 60-vote issue? I believe the leadership has one or two reasons. Either
1. they like the 60-vote obstacle when they are in the majority because it enables them to hide their true centrist (read corporatist) positions from a more progressive electorate, or
2. they fear what the Republicans will do should they take the majority in the absence of this perceived obstacle, i.e., with true 51-vote majority rule, or both.
Progressives who are tired of being dismissed by this Congress and this President should not accept either of these excuses, for obvious reasons. We should be loudly and clearly articulating at every opportunity how the corporatist wing of the party is choking the life blood out of the base in a shameful and disingenuous manner. When questions are asked on the issues, polls show Americans support progressive positions in sizeable majorities. We should do everything we can to force voters to choose between on the one hand, a progressive Democrat, and on the other a corporatist Democrat (read Blue Dog), a corporatist Republican, a Libertarian Republican, or a Tea-Party Republican. If voters have a choice between a corporatist candidate and a non-corporatist candidate come November, they will choose the non-corporatist candidate. In the rare circumstance they have the choice between two non-corporatist candidates, i.e., between a progressive and a tea-partier or libertarian, they will choose the progressive.
This is our time.
If progressive Democrats effectively expose the corporatist Democrats in Congress and the corporatist agenda of Obama, in the long run (next 1-3 elections), we will turn the direction of the country. On the other hand, if we allow the Democratic leadership (Obama/Reid) to run to the "center" to swing independents, without exposing this appeal to moderates as disingenuous corporatism more equivalent to Republican rule than to Democratic principles, we will again be marginalized and rendered irrelevant. And nothing significant will change.
I welcome ideas and links in the comments on how we can best do this. And I’ll offer a first example.