A Six-Year Moment Of Truth

2 comments January 23rd, 2007at 12:18pm Posted by Eli

I was thinking about the success of the Democrats’ First 100 Hours Plan, and what it means, and how important it is to keep building on it as Democrats (hopefully) consolidate their control of the Senate and retake the White House.

For the third time in a row, the Republicans have run the country into the ground, and then challenged the Democrats to somehow make it all better. Generally speaking, Carter failed, and was replaced by an incompetent Republican. Clinton succeeded, but was nevertheless replaced by an even more incompetent Republican. What will happen this time?

The early signs are positive, as Congressional Democrats have begun to use their new powers to start fixing areas of neglect like minimum wage and homeland security (you heard me). Obviously, they need to continue to build on that over the next two years, and then work with a Democratic president to achieve even more comprehensive rollback and repair.

If they succeed, then not only will they pull the country back from the brink, but they can incorporate this into their brand and narrative to drive the Banana Republicans back to their holes: “The Republicans are the party that breaks the country, and the Democrats are the party that puts it back together again – who would you rather vote for?”

It would be a very compelling campaign message, but the Democrats really would have to put the country back together, which will be a daunting task to say the least. If they can’t pull it off, then the country will continue to alternate between Republican and Democratic control until the Democrats can demonstrate a consistent track record of cleaning up Republican messes. I believe that establishing that pattern is essential, and that if Carter had succeeded in fixing the economy (and if the Republicans hadn’t sabotaged him on the hostage crisis), Al Gore would have won easily in 2000.

One thing that I keep wondering about is what the Democrats will do with all the extraordinary powers that the Republicans have granted themselves as president and congressional majority. Will the Democrats graciously hand them back in the name of comity and Constitution, or will they use them to push through extreme measures that Republicans can’t stomach? Will the Gang Of 14 anti-filibuster compromise on judicial nominees still be operative? Would the Democrats invoke the nuclear option? I have mixed feelings on all this. While it would be very satisfying (not to mention expedient) to use the Republicans’ own weapons against them, ultimately the ends cannot justify the means. Ideally, I would like to see them broker a deal with the Republicans which makes such majority and presidential power grabs all but impossible in the future, and raises the bar for judicial approvals to a supermajority, with no presumption of presidential prerogative. I think the Republicans would jump all over such a deal – the trick would be figuring out how to prevent them from tearing it up the second they retake power (hopefully never). Oh, and as long as I’m pipedreaming, some election reform (paper trails, public campaign financing, nonpartisan election officials) would be nice, too…

But I digress. The bottom line is that the Democrats need to show visible progress over the next six years, in getting us out of Iraq, in improving our security and relations with the global community, in restoring and augmenting the safety net, in rebalancing the budget, in reining in corporate corruption and excesses, and in re-establishing the government as the servant of the people. If they can do that, and continue to remind the American people that they have done that, they should stay in control for a good long time – at least until a new generation comes of age that doesn’t remember how bad it was under the Republicans.

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Favorites,Politics,Republicans


  • 1. Ol'Froth  |  January 23rd, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    WHile desireable, it is just a pipe dream. The republicans would gut any reform as soon as they retook power. Remember the “blue cards?”

  • 2. Eli  |  January 23rd, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    Yeah, I know all too well. What I was wondering was whether there was some way to set a rule in stone such that it could only be overturned by a supermajority.

    Probably not…

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