SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE…. The typical American does not know or care about legislative procedures. It’s challenging to keep up on current events, and getting a grasp on things like “cloture votes” and “holds” takes some effort. Most folks don’t want to bother, and I don’t necessarily blame them.
For folks who aren’t especially familiar with the ins and outs of modern American politics, the existing power structure must seem exasperating. If there’s a Democratic Congress working with a Democratic White House, we should be seeing all kinds of progress on a wide variety of fronts. What they don’t realize, regrettably, is that Republicans have enough power to make legislating impossible, and the GOP is abusing that power in ways no party ever has in American history.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) isn’t some random person who lacks familiarity with the political process — he’s a member of the congressional leadership. He knows full well why Congress is dysfunctional, and he knows that it’s his party that’s responsible.
So today, it was almost nauseating to see the Post Turtle’s office issue a press release that read, “Quick question for the Administration: Who controls the process?” It noted that the Democratic Party at least ostensibly has authority in the House, Senate, and White House — suggesting that Dems should be able to govern as they please, even though intelligent observers know better.
It makes clear the problem we’ve discussed many times: voters will blame Dems for failing to deliver, and won’t blame Republicans for preventing Dems from governing. It’s insane, it’s exasperating, it turns logic and reason on their head, but it’s the truth. Dems are running the show, so they’ll get blamed, even if the GOP sabotages the show.
Greg Sargent explains very well that it leaves Democratic leaders with a limited number of options.
[Democrats] can scale way back and find common ground with the GOP. Or they can press forward and continue highlighting GOP obstructionism, in hopes that the public will eventually tune in to the procedural shenanigans and blame everything on Republicans. That’s unlikely, however.
Or Dems can try to change the underlying dynamic — as hard as this might appear — by challenging, and perhaps changing, the procedural realities that make this dynamic possible.
A fourth possibility — Dems pursue the agenda they promised voters to work on, and the public pressures Republicans to cooperate — no longer appears feasible. The GOP is immune to public pressure, and the public isn’t engaged.
So, Democrats, what’s it going to be? Passing weak and ineffective legislation, passing nothing and blaming the GOP, or working on restoring the legislative process that served the United States well for its first 200 or so years.
There are no other choices. Your majority and legacy are on the line.