Sunday, October 24, 2010

Riding to Nancy Pelosi's Rescue

With a little over a week until these next elections, I've been hyped and scared to death by party activists predicting the end of civilization as we know it unless they make their fundraising deadlines by midnight tonight. I know this is going to sound heretical, but the horse race has lost its appeal to me. The prospects of real change taking place in our nation's capital just seem to have little or nothing to do with who controls the legislative chambers. If Obama, elected with 53 percent of the popular vote and controlling both chambers of Congress was powerless to enact measures on some of his cherished campaign issues, and was left bloodied and bowed by the marathon health reform bill, what will the next two years bring that's any different if the Democrats manage to hold onto their majorities, which seems unlikely at this point? The truth is the Democrats are ineffective at moving progressive reforms because the party is divided, and a sizeable chunk of the Democrats in the House are Southern conservatives who vote with the Republicans nine times out of ten. Sometimes I think the best thing that could happen is the Republicans getting control of one or both chambers and then being forced to work with Obama in a governing coalition to actually pass some legislation dealing with our problems. I predict we would see a lot less climate change denial, obstructionism on financial sector reform and unwillingness to live with most of the health care package, and instead a willingness to craft some compromises on the issues if the Republicans came to power. I can't believe they would be irresponsible enough to be beholden to the more extreme fringes of their Tea Party base.
On the other hand, wouldn't it be great to believe in the change again? Never mind the record of corruption, the control exerted by the financial sector on both parties. If the Dems could hold the line and find a way to get around the filibuster, might we finally get some climate change legislation? I'm not even talking cap and trade anymore, but some significant renewable portfolio standards on the federal level, some subsidies for research, high voltage transmission lines and mass transit, would go a long way with restoring my faith in our ability to control our destiny. If only our democracy were less messy. But that would be Scandinavia and boring. So I'll be making phone calls to get out the vote next weekend and might even dip into the credit card again before midnight. Hold on there, Nancy!
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