If you read only one article on politics this year, read George Packer's article in The New Yorker entitled "The Empty Chamber: Just How Broken is the Senate?" Packer provides what may be the definitive analysis of how Republican obstructionism in the Senate has made it so difficult to get anything done in Washington. You can read his article here: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/09/100809fa_fact_packer
Here are a couple of quotes:
Under [Mitch] McConnell, Republicans have consistently consumed as much of the Senate's calendar as possible with legislative maneuvering. The strategy is not to extend deliberation of the Senate's agenda but to prevent it. Tom Harkin, who first proposed reform of the filibuster in 1995, called his Republican colleagues "nihilists," who want to create chaos because it serves their ideology. "If there's chaos, things will tend toward simple solutions," Harkin said. "In chaos people don't listen to reason."
In the current Senate, it has become normal for a handful of senators, sometimes representing just ten or twenty per cent of the country's population, to hold everything up.
On July 21st, President Obama signed the completed [financial reform] bill. The two lasting achievements of this Senate, financial regulation and health care, required a year and a half of legislative warfare that nearly destroyed the body. They depended on a set of circumstances-a large majority of Democrats, a charismatic President with an electoral mandate, and a national crisis-that will not last long or be repeated anytime soon. Two days after financial reform became law, Harry Reid announced that the Senate would not take up comprehensive energy-reform legislation for the rest of the year. And so climate change joined immigration, job creation, food safety, pilot training, veterans' care, campaign finance, transportation security, labor law, mine safety, wildfire management, and scores of executive and judicial appointments on the list of matters that the world's greatest deliberative body is incapable of addressing.
Think about that last sentence. Because of Republican obstructionism a host of critical problems facing this country that could have been addressed in the last two years will not be addressed, perhaps ever if Republicans win control of Congress. Unemployment will remain high, workplaces will be less safe, and every job will be endangered. Immigration will continue to be unresolved. Tainted food will continue to reach your dinner plate. Air travel will become riskier. Corporations will have greater power to control elections, with permission of the Supreme Court. And on and on.
Here is the truth. Anyone who votes Republican this November will be awarding the Republican party for getting nothing done in Washington. Elect Republicans and you will send a powerful message to both parties--obstructionism wins elections. Our problems will just get worse while Washington does nothing. Is that what you want? If not, then the answer is simple. Vote to expand Democratic Party control of Congress, not reduce it. Send a message to Republicans and Democrats alike that we want Congress, and the Senate in particular, to get things done in Washington. It's not enough to just say NO/Nothing.
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