Friday, June 01, 2007

This Is a Long Battle, Folks

One of themes I've been pushing on Donkey Path is that we're in a generational battle to reform Washington and to undo the increasingly reactionary politics in America that have been taking place over the last thirty years. We need reform and we need a government ready to take on the problems of the 21st century. Most Republicans in Washington and a small number of Democrats have been hiding from those problems. Even a majority of Democrats are only now catching up on a number of issues; and yet, across the spectrum, the Democrats are generally far more informed these days that their opposites across the aisle—that's important to remember.

I have no illusions about the Democratic election last November. It was great victory but a victory mitigated by the damage of the last thirty years and by the fact that the Democratic majority is rather slim in the House and almost nonexistent in the Senate and exists there because of two independents, one of them Joe Lieberman. The good news is that a number of strong moderates and progressives were elected last November but over the last thirty years, even the Democrats saw their party tilting more rightward than usual. Not all Democrats are ready to take on the 21st century. But there's a good chance that Democrats may be able to increase their majority in 2008 with good people and there's a good chance that those Republicans who embrace their radical right wing agenda may find their numbers diminishing as Americans recognize the damage many of them are doing to our nation and our future.

I'm not happy about some of the compromises Democrats have made recently and I worry that there isn't as much progress as I hoped there would be by now, but there is progress and I expect more to come. So, on the one hand, I understand some of the grousing I'm reading on different blogs but a lot of it simply isn't realistic. As I said, this is a long battle, and a handful of votes in Congress doesn't mean much. I'm committed to building on the progress that's been made and I know too much about what coming down the road to waste much time on cynicism and despairing rhetoric.

Here's a very fine post from Mahablog with a useful take on all this, including the different votes that were taken as the Democratic leadership looked for a majority:
The Feingold and McGovern amendments both provided that a troop redeployment out of Iraq begin within a set number of days after the passage of the bill. These were tougher than the timetable bill, in other words. In the Senate, 29 out of 51 Democratic senators voted yes. In the House, 169 out of 233 Democrats voted yes. A glorious total of two Republicans in the entire Congress voted yes.

Yet some twit commenting on Think Progress wrote We can’t even get Democrats to vote for timetables. Unfortunately, I think this notion is common among a large lump of people who passionately hate the war but aren’t paying close attention to what’s actually happening in Washington to end it.

Further, the concept of overriding a veto seems to elude some people. Bush has just said he wants a South Korea style presence - superbases and fifty years. What makes anyone think he’ll listen to 25 Republicans? If 25 Senate Republicans voted with the Dems, that would be more than enough to override Bush’s veto in the Senate. By law, Bush would have to comply if Congress overrode a veto. If he didn’t — well, that’s never happened before. It could get interesting.

I agree there’s plenty of reason to criticize the Dems, but it worries me when large numbers of “progressives” develop knee-jerk antipathy toward the Dems. This is not helpful.

There’s a middle way between mindless boosterism and mindlessly assuming the worst. This middle way has two steps: First, be informed. Second, think. [See the original.]

Readers may have noticed a number of blogs that talk about being members of the 'reality-based community.' There's a reason for it and even a number of progressives could do a better job of being reality-based. The stakes are high as we approach the second decade of the 21st century with little progress in Washington. But there is movement. And I believe reform is coming. And there are many, many people with their eyes open.

***Personal Note*** I'm determined to keep Donkey Path going and I will post as often as I can. I'm sure regular readers have noticed fewer posts lately. That's life. I have bills to pay, a body that doesn't always cooperate, and not many working years left. It's too bad blogs provide income for only a few. But I deeply appreciate the readers who keep dropping by from Swisher, Iowa to Orange County to the area around Rome, Georgia, to several readers in Ohio and to a frequent reader from Ludington, Michigan (or thereabouts) and to many other readers elsewhere I recognize. At least ten percent of my readers come from other countries and that's been an eye opener for me. Blogs truly are an international affair and it's important for bloggers, readers and commenters to keep that in mind. The world is watching all of us and wondering how things will turn out. I hope for the best.

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