Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Mid-term Exam: reading the American people

Inspiration for this article: Sen. Reid's statement yesterday that the Dems will shut down the operation of the Senate if the GOP proceeds with changing the rules on filibustering.

This threat, to me, has "empty" written all over it. For starters, as long as the Senate continues to address "essential" issues, I feel that the show is going to go on as normal. Since every bit of legislation--and therefore every committee meeting, floor debate, etc.--has the potential to impact thousands if not millions of Americans, all Senate business is "essential" to a part of the populace to which the individual Senators are accountable. Sure, the Dems might hold down the pace of operations for a month or two, but it certainly wouldn't last for the rest of the session. And I also believe that Senators that participated in this activity would be looking to find a new job at the end of their term. I'm not saying that the seat would switch Republican; I'm saying that most Americans--even liberal ones--don't believe hefty amounts of our tax dollars should pay the salaries of people who choose not to do their job. You can stand on "ceremony" all that you want, the bottom line is that a Senator should be in Washington D.C. representing the needs of all Americans. . .which is kinda hard to do when you willfully don't even go to the office.

But here is the "interesting" thing to me: the Dems are playing this according to the old "appeasement" playbook. They feel threatened by an activity that they feel is unjust; they have sought protections from every possible corner; and now they are making threats. (This is normally how a "power" appeases a vocal "minority"--in this case the roles are reversed. But that doesn't change the "rules" of the game.) In the old days, this would have been enough to get their goal: "appeasement" in the form of Senate GOPers stopping plans to end the filibuster reforms. Heck, in the old days they might have even accomplished that after simply identifying the "injustice" and using their allies in the media to broadcast the Dems' message.

But this isn't the old days. Today, we have seen what real leadership can do in the face of the historical tide of appeasement. Today, we know that threats must be considered--but not necessarily shirked away from. And today, we know that "business as usual" is not the proper way to do business.

I hope that Sen. Frist and his colleagues have learned those lessons as well.

And I hope that Sens. Reid, Boxer and the like are given another strong rebuke about the manner in which they represent the needs and wants of the American people. Unfortunately that measure won't come to fruition for several more years. . .but I can be patient.


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