SCREAM BLOODY MURDER…. It’s worthwhile to recognize a frustrating political dynamic. It’s even more worthwhile to try to do something about it.
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) on Thursday admitted the “general feeling on the Democratic side” was that Republicans have so far been able to cast controversial protest votes and stall important legislation “with impunity.”
He consequently seemed to suggest Republicans’ behavior in Congress over the past year as hypocritical, as Democrats could never vote against important legislation and emerge unscathed.
“Some of the votes [Republicans] cast — we would be on trial for treason if we had voted against defense appropriations in the midst of a war,” he told reporters on his way to the Senate chamber. Durbin was referring to GOP members who tried to block the defense bill out of concern that a hate crimes bill was attached to it.
“They did it with impunity,” Durbin lamented.
Durbin’s right; they did. Every reckless, irresponsible, hypocritical, dangerous, and incoherent step Republicans take, they do so “with impunity.”
They do so because they’re pretty confident that Democrats won’t effectively raise a fuss, the media won’t care, and the public won’t know. And they’re right.
Let’s look at this in a different light by imagining a hypothetical. Let’s say Democrats ran the government for several years, and ran the country into a ditch. Disgusted, voters elected a Republican president with a huge mandate, gave Republicans the biggest House majority either party has had in 20 years, and the biggest Senate majority either party has had in 30 years.
Then imagine that, despite the overwhelming edge, Democrats decided — during times of foreign and domestic crises — that they simply would not allow the GOP majority to govern. Dems ignored the election results and reflexively opposed literally every bill, initiative, and nominee of any consequence, blocking anything and everything.
In this hypothetical, despite two wars, Democrats rejected funding for the troops. Despite a terrorist plot, Democrats rejected the qualified nominee to head the TSA. Despite an economic crisis, Democrats rejected economic recovery efforts, a jobs bill, and nominees to fill key Treasury Department posts.
Now, in this hypothetical, what do you suppose the political climate would look like? Would the huge Republican majority simply wring its hands? Would GOP officials decide it’s time to try “bipartisan” governing? Would Republicans shrink from pursing their policy agenda?
Or would every single day be another opportunity for Republicans to be apoplectic about Democratic obstructionism? How many marches on Washington would Fox News organize, demanding that Democrats allow the governing majority to function?
Put simply, I’d like Democratic leaders to think about what Republicans would do if the situations were completely reversed. Then they should do that.