Should the GOP Help the Democrats Govern?
The radical idea that 500,000 citizens in a congressional district send a representative to Washington to do something other than scream his head off that the opposition are a bunch of traitorous, America-destroying philistines trying to undermine democracy because they want to declare tomorrow "National Blue-Haired Ladies Day" just hasn't caught on yet on either side.
Of course, the Democrats actually have to do something about governing the country because they are in power and have to take evidence back home to hold up as an example of how busy they have been the last two or six years. This is sort of like a kid who proudly holds up his homework to the teacher, showing her how hard he labored over the assignment even though he waited until the last minute to work on it.
But that hasn't prevented the Democrats from acting in a beastly manner toward Republicans, which is only payback for when the GOP was in the majority and acted in a beastly manner toward the Dems, which they only did because previous to that when the Democrats were in power, they acted in a really beastly manner toward GOP lawmakers.
Politics sure is a serious business, isn't it?
Regardless, Kevin Drum raises a serious issue writing about the legislation that just passed extending unemployment benefits:
And Democrats only had to break three separate filibusters in the Senate to get this passed! The first filibuster was broken by a vote of 87-13, the second by a vote of 85-2, and the third by a vote of 97-1. The fourth and final vote, the one to actually pass the bill, was 98-0. Elapsed time: five weeks for a bill that everyone ended up voting for.
Why? Because even though Republicans were allowed to tack on a tax cut to the bill as the price of getting it passed, they decided to filibuster anyway unless they were also allowed to include an anti-ACORN amendment. Seriously. A bit of ACORN blustering to satisfy the Palin-Beck crowd is the reason they held up a bill designed to help people who are out of work in the deepest recession since World War II. ... That's called taking governing seriously, my friends.
Drum makes a valid point while raising a serious, important question: How much cooperation should the opposition be prepared to give the majority in passing their agenda?
On extending unemployment benefits, it was probably unavoidable to have seen the kind of roadblocks thrown up to prevent passage. But what about health care reform? Cap and trade? Card check?
I am in complete agreement with those on the right who say that the chasm of difference between the two sides on those issues makes GOP obstructionism not only inevitable but necessary. If the Democrats are hell-bent on massive, "comprehensive" reform of the health care system, and wish to employ means to that end that are an anathema to basic GOP principles, it is unreasonable to expect members, much less party leaders, to abandon what they believe and work with the Democrats to pass the legislation.
It may be similarly unreasonable to expect Democrats to forgo comprehensive reform just to cater to GOP sensibilities about massive government intervention -- and eventual takeover -- of the health care system. Hence, the battle royal we are witnessing today where there are going to be winners and losers, even though the idea of health care reform is a good one and necessary. If a lot of Republicans signed on to a bill so at odds with GOP values, it would, for all intents and purposes, finish the party.
I think a similar argument can be made about cap and trade and card check, although both energy policy and neutral labor law reform are also worthy legislative goals. The point being, both sides should recognize that some issues are a bridge too far to cross when it comes to bipartisan cooperation.