21 January 2010

 

Mass Reax: Quit Freaking Out!

Are people still shouting?

Is there writhing? Rending of garments and gnashing of teeth?

Have the Biblical proportions of Tuesday's DEM loss of one of the Massachusetts seats in the US Senate been sufficiently articulated?

Who am I kidding? I think the drama is completely out of proportion. It's a loss to "our" side, no doubt, but it's not the end of the world, of health-care reform, of climate-change legislation, etc. It means that we need new paths towards the goals we cherish, but it doesn't change the goals. If they were desirable and reachable previously, they are still desirable and reachable today. It just requires more effort. It may impact how quickly they are achieved. I know it's difficult to see things from perspectives of longer than five-minutes ago, but we didn't get into this mess overnight, and we won't get out overnight, either, so get used to the idea that we're not getting to the Promised Land tomorrow night. Or the night after that, either.

Those of use who share the ideals of better access to health care, reduced health care aggregate costs, reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions, broader concepts of human rights more inclusive of lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender people (without diminishing any individual's right to worship as they choose, by the way), a fairer tax system in which the middle class don't subsidize the rich and in which the poor are given a better chance to share in the bounty of modern life, etc., have to quit freaking out over the loss of one Senate seat in a special election.

We need to quit referring to it as Ted Kennedy's seat: It was never his seat. It was one of two seats that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is allotted under the Connecticut compromise that secured support for the 1787 Constitution of the US. At that time, it was a seat that belonged, in many ways, to the government of the Commonwealth, but with the passage of the 17th Amendment, it now belongs to the people of Massachusetts.

If the powers that be, largely the Democratic Party of Massachusetts, hadn't have been so freaked out with the fantasy that John Kerry might actually become President of the United States in 2004, and that Mitt Romney might appoint a Republican to the seat, they wouldn't have messed with the long-standing procedure in Massachusetts of having the governor appoint someone to serve in an open Senate seat for the remainder of the term. If the powers that be, again the Democratic Party of Massachusetts in conjunction with my national Democratic Party hadn't freaked out that they would be one short of the 60-vote supermajority now seemingly required for even the most mundane legislative passage hadn't gotten the law changed to allow a governor's appointment until a special election could be held (instead of leaving the seat open during that time), enough factors would be different that a different outcome than Tuesday night's election would've been likely.

I feel that for my party and the Massachusetts party to do this was so full of hubris and arrogance that it almost certainly set the stage for the kind of pissed-off results of Tuesday night. I lived in Massachusetts long enough to know the hubris and arrogance of the local Democratic leadership, and in this case they were aided and abetted by the leadership of the party in Washington, including the President. And I admit I see this with hindsight and shame.

So, as a matter of principle, rules shouldn't be changed in the middle of the game unless they're discovered to be obviously unfair to all participants.

And, as a principle of life on this rock, in this Universe, all actions come with unintended consequences, many of which that come back to bite you in the ass.

Now, the other side has issues with principles and practices, too. They need to stop lying, starting with the lie that the situation with the national debt is due to the current administration, when almost to a one those making those statements said nothing during the previous administration, an administration of year after year of deficit spending, due in some part to military engagement, but due in large part to a tax system that raised inadequate revenue since it taxed those with the highest earnings at historically low and insufficient rates. The first reason we have all this debt is because of the Bush tax cuts. The second reason is the 2009 stimulus bill and changes in monetary policies that were necessitated by the incredible credit crunch that led to the economic downturn in 2008. The financial regulatory posture leading to that has roots in both parties, but the worst consequences, including the real-estate bubble, happened under the previous administration. Stop lying like none of this ever happened.

You know, lying is just plain wrong. Stop lying.

I sometimes think that my conservative, tea-party-esque, friends are just plain and simply anarchists, hoping for a complete economic collapse followed by a lack of civil order that would allow those with the most guns to take over. I have a simple message for them: Get your head out of your asses, it ain't gonna happen. And a second message: You're not the only ones with guns.

I have no doubt that RNC/FNC-motivated anger played a role in the Massachusetts Senate election, but that's no excuse for losing the seat. For the future, each of us have to take the concerns of our fellow citizens seriously, especially if we want them to take our concerns seriously. People are concerned about spending, about jobs, about debt, about the changes in health care. The RNC/FNC message on those is bullshit, but that doesn't mean that an individual's voicing those concerns can be dismissed. Do so at the peril of all we care for.

So, friends on both sides: quit freaking out! Democrats: Don't change the rules, and don't be surprised when you do that you don't get what you expected. Republicans and tea-partiers: Quit lying. It's wrong, remember? Everybody: Listen more and talk less. We're all in this together, whether you like it or not.

As to how to move health-care reform and other issues forward? This one's take: The House should bite the bullet and pass the Senate bill, then make any future changes using reconciliation. Future major legislation is likely going to require reconciliation to pass the aspects that impact the budget. That opens up some possibilities of ignoring DINOs in the Senate who get more than their share of influence.

Shutting up now.

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Comments:
how soon everone forgets that the sixty-th vote was not expected in the last election. That just ended up happening. So get on with the course of being the ruling party with fifty some votes.
 
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