A Democratic Majority: What Does It Mean?

So Al Franken will be seated and Democrats have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Jamelle, like me, is skeptical that this means what Democrats and the mainstream media will try to tell you that it means:

The past few months have demonstrated the extent to which there are real ideological/interest-based fissures within the Democratic caucus. Or put another way, Ben Nelson is still the 60th vote, Evan Bayh the 59th, Blanche Lincoln the 58th and so on.

Precisely.

I think the problem with this "super-majority"/"filibuster proof" meme is that it obscures the reality that the Democratic party is a collection of loosely aligned points of view.  Sixty Democratic votes doesn't mean the same thing as 60 Republican votes (or even 58 Republican votes). 

I suspect the reason Democrats fall out of favor is that people view them in a way that is not at all based in reality. Meaning, people expect Democrats to behave as Republicans…you know, like a party and using their majority to ram things through Congress.

There is a part of me that would like this to be the case (at least, partly).  I sorta think winning an election gives you some leeway to do what you think should be done.  I know, crazy, right?

However, I never look at the Democratic party as a party in the way I view the Republican party as a party. And it is not that I don't think they believe in anything, so much as I don't think they are organized around a central ideology like the Republicans.  And that makes things different.

But the meme out there will be that Democrats will push through whatever it is they want, or should, whether they do that or not.  But no one will define what it is the Democrats want.  Because no one knows.  What the Blue Dogs want isn't the same as what a Chuck Schumer wants. 

Why does no one say this (enough)?

Jamelle rightly deconstructs Ezra Klein's primary message that Democrats should use this majority to get some stuff done because Klein fails to account for the fact that there is no there there.  What do Democrats want?

Democrats in the past may have been the overreaching liberal party, but they aren't that now.  But you wouldn't know that to listen to the Right and the mainstream media.

Ultimately, I think what will happen is that Democrats will fall apart on health care and everything else (and probably never even get to the "black" issues like mandatory minimum sentencing) and people will vote some of them out of power, thinking (I would argue incorrectly) that Democrats squandered their majority.

I would say this is good because the Democratic party is so disjointed that it serves no one well at all, but what is the alternative?

About tlewisisdope

I write. I live in DC.
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