Upcoming “Obama’s Report Card”

I want to start our pre-thinking about our discussion on  Feb 25.  There’s lots to talk about. 

But, the big point is the one I’ve been hammering:   No party out of power has ever used procedural games to block up-or-down votes on everything the party in power is trying to do — and certainly not when we’re in the grip of a severe  recession.  This guy, after reviewing how big a victory the Democrats won in the last two elections (06 and 08), one guy says it better than I could:   

Obama won states a Democrat hadn’t carried in a generation. Democratic candidates won Senate races in states where the party is supposed to be weak — Alaska, North Carolina, Louisiana, Montana, and Arkansas. House Dems built up the largest congressional majority in three decades. Obama’s 52.8% of the popular vote was the highest of any candidate in either party in 20 years, and the highest for a non-incumbent in 56 years.

Republicans were left as a small, demoralized, and discredited party. The GOP found itself leaderless and directionless, with a policy agenda that is as unpopular as it is ineffective. They had held the reins of power and failed in such a spectacular fashion, some wondered how long it would take for the party to recover. It was the beginning of a new day in American politics.

At least, that’s what it seemed like at the time.

The word “unprecedented” is almost certainly thrown around too much — I know I probably overuse it — but in every similar American electoral situation ever, the result of an election like this has been exactly the same. When a party and its presidential ticket dominate on this scale, that party earned the opportunity to govern. “Moderates” from the minority party would tend to go along with the majority as often as was possible. That the new administration would be able to fill key government posts and judicial vacancies with Senate-approved nominees wasn’t even open to question; it was a foregone conclusion.

Most of the congressional minority, in these situations, would continue to oppose the majority’s agenda — in other words, they’d vote against it — but the notion of simply blocking the nation’s lawmaking process, immediately in the wake of their own catastrophic failures, was simply ridiculous. Such an option was so genuinely absurd, it was literally out of the question.

It’s part of what makes the Republican tactics of the last 13 months so extraordinary — it’s the first time in memory that a major political party decided, en masse, that elections simply shouldn’t have consequences. We’ve never had a minority lose a national landslide and then decide that the huge governing majority must not even be able to vote on its own agenda. 

I promise to beat different dead horses in future posts about this subject.

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