Saturday, March 10, 2007

We Don't Have the Votes

Roger read to me today a piece in the paper about Rep. David Obey (D-WI) becoming frustrated with a group of anti-war hecklers. He blamed liberals for "screwing it up" over the supplemental spending bill for the Iraq War, saying that the supplemental would help end the war, which is the sort of logic that didn't fly when John Kerry said something about 'I was for the war before I decided to vote against it,' or something much more convoluted than that. Obey then added, 'we just don't have the votes [to end the war],' which is much more honest.

It's interesting to watch the Democrats slowly unfold from their variety of complicated origami-fold positions they've been forced (or not so forced) to hold and stick with over the last 12 years. The Democrats and the leadership still just don't get the fact that approximately 2/3 of Americans are against the war. That's a lot of people, and it's not just the liberal "fringe." Telling Americans that continuing de facto to support the President by approving his wild-eyed spending bills and his agenda, but inserting little bits of things into legislation that slow it down, kind of like the way a stick in mud will make a rushing current eddy for a short while--telling Americans that this is going to have some kind of tangible effect is just a load of crap. It doesn't make any sense to anybody.

And when you put that side by side with the fact that approximately 2/3 of Americans disapprove of the President himself, well, then, why do the Democrats continue to put on some sort of Kabuki show for the 1/3 of the American public who both support the President and the War? Why are political officials on both sides of the aisle kowtowing to a minority of Americans, when the majority will is readily apparent? And a big majority at that?

Obey is right in saying that the Democrats don't have the votes. There's a good margin in the House, but nothing in the Senate. But that's not a matter of the will of the American people, that's a matter of elected representation. There are lawmakers who are continuing to vote against the will of their constituents.

So why aren't the Democrats outing the congressional members who are operating in contradiction of their constituents? Why is everyone pretending that the Emperor has not only clothes, but a full suit of armor?

Obviously, this is an election issue. And this is where the Democratic Party is behaving exactly like the Republicans and the President. They're putting the future of the party ahead of the needs of the public. They could easily be resolving this situation, and they're not, because they, like the President, want to kick the can of the War down the road until the election. They could be putting pressure on other lawmakers, reminding them that if they want to get re-elected, they'd better get on board this legislation. But, no, they want to stall on resolving the war for a year or more because they want this issue to run on in '08.

The President only wants to kick the can down the road until he's safely out of office. But the Democrats are just letting more soldiers die, preventing re-deployment to places like Afghanistan where we're needed, and utilizing resources that could be better spent fighting terrorists because they want to prolong this as an election issue.

"We don't have the votes" is honest, but it's not honest enough. It's more like, we don't have the votes and we don't want to get them right now.

How America has gotten to the point where absolutely no one in office is actually required to respond to the needs of their constituents and the will of the people is a mystery. Or maybe not. The two parties have amassed such money and power, independent of the will of ordinary individuals, that they don't need to put their energy into solving the problems of the public. They just need to put their energy into getting and maintaining power. Without a third party to break this up, this game is just going to go on forever.

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