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Saturday, July 16, 2011

TFD Opinions: Hey Democrats, What Goes Around Comes Around

As frustrating as it is to watch the Republicans hold everything in Washington hostage and behave childishly on every issue, people are suffering from a recency effect if they only blame Republicans. Let's not forget that Democrats have played a part in leading to this incredible gridlock. Even President Obama isn't above blame on this one.

There was a time when judicial nominations were backlogged, debt ceiling increases were being voted against by the minority party, and qualified Supreme Court nominees were struggling to be confirmed. That describes the time in office for Barack Obama but it also describes the time in office for George W Bush. Then Senator Barack Obama voted against a debt ceiling increase to score some political points and voted against John Roberts and Samuel Alito's confirmations.

That's not to say that he should've supported Roberts and Alito as they clearly have different judicial philosophies than Obama, but it's the President's prerogative to pick who he wants for judicial nominees and it's not for the Senate to play politics and try to vote down the nominees simply on ideological least it didn't used to be that way. Even Bill Clinton's nominees coasted through the nomination process but the time of advise and consent has become the time of never waste a political opportunity. Now that Barack Obama is the president, he understands that he made bad votes, especially on the debt ceiling, but like a parent speaking to a stubborn child, it's tough to say do as I say not as I did.

Democrats held up Republican plans in the middle of the decade so much that they almost called for filibuster reform as the Democrats did recently. Yet both sides, in a rare demonstration of not being short sighted chose to leave the rules in place. Even though they took the long view, they're wrong. As logical as it is to fear what might be done in a system where majority ruled, tyranny of the minority is even worse. Democrats were in control of the House, Senate, and Presidency including a 60 vote supermajority from 2009-2011 and what did they do? Virtually nothing. They had to beg and plead for months and months to get a watered down healthcare bill and passed a stimulus bill that had a large chunk of tax cuts and got no help from Republicans and took all the blame. If the minority party is going to provide no assistance in governing and is going to put all the blame for anything that goes wrong on the majority, then shouldn't the majority have the power to enact what it wants to be judged on its own plans, not on its ability to navigate the gridlock? Elections should have consequences but lately Republicans have made Congress into a hostage negotiation where no matter what the American people think, we must yield to the extreme and know-nothing views of the loud minority in the Tea Party.

If only Washington took the long view on something other than their own ability to hold power, they might realize that the vast majority of their actions are penny wise, pound foolish as they continue to play games with real people's lives because the only thing that really matters is whether they'll get re-elected for the next term.

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