Wednesday, January 20, 2010

US Politics Makes No Sense

Today in America the election to replace Ted Kennedy in the Senate was held in Massachusetts. The seat has been a Democratic Party one since 1953 when John F Kennedy beat Henry Cabot Lodge - and both of the state's Senators have been from the Democratic Party since 1979.

So of course today, as things are want to happen, it was won by the Republican Party candidate.

Now, normally this wouldn't matter too much, but by losing this seat it means the Democrats and the two independent Senators only account for 59 of the 100 Senate seats. And there needs to be 60 to be able to win a vote to stop anyone filibustering.

So what this means is that most pundits expect that the Republican Party Senators will line up to filibuster the Health Care Bill - effectively killing it by never allowing it to come to a vote.

What it really means is the Democratic Party needs to grow a pair.

That a Party with an historically massive majority in both houses of Congress gets all shook up about not having a majority of 60 in the Senate is the most stupid thing going. If the Republican Party filibusters, then the Democrats should absolutely rip into them and eviscerate them in the media, in the streets – ie convince the voters that the Republicans are effectively trying to overturn the notion of majority rule. .

But no, they get all sad and talk about how Fox News is so mean and nasty.

It's a bit like the Australian political scene. The ALP should wake up a bit and realise they won the last election, they have the lead in the polls and then get on the front foot over the ETS Bill. I'm not suggesting they "use up some of their popularity" like it is money in a bank (a dumb notion that has no basis in reality), I'm suggesting they should realise they have a majority support on the issue (or at least close to it) and carry the day – work hard and win the day (and I’m not talking in the Senate, because unfortunately our system means a complete and utter fool like Steve Fielding can essentially kill any ALP Bill). I’m talking win it in the public arena, so that come election time Abbott and the Liberals will be committing electoral suicide to oppose an ETS. The ETS Bill obviously won’t pass in this parliament, but the ALP should make the Liberal's decision to block it the one that reduces that party’s vote at the next election. And reduces it by a lot.

If Rudd and Co think the issue matters that much, they need to go out and win the day. And they should try using something other than fraking Departmental talking points to do it.

Perhaps they will - I do think they'll be pretty aggressive on the issue when parliament return - and they better be or Abbott will take control of the narrative on the issue.

But back to American politics. To be honest I don't get it most of the time - the fact that members of the House of Representatives only have 2 year terms is so utterly stupid that I pretty much just put up my hands in despair at the whole thing. 2 years? So basically the day after your election win, you start campaigning for your re-election (little wonder they are all so dependent on moneyed supporters and big lobby interests). So rather than have me discuss it, let's turn it over to Jon Stewart:

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DJ Maths said...

Hey grog, good post, but to clear up one point for you, the dems have already secured 60 votes on health care - Scott Brown won't join the senate for a while now - votes will be made before he takes the currently-Coakley occupied seat, Reid will make sure of it, or the house will be forced to pass the Senate-version unedited.

Grog said...

Good point DJ, but I'll hold off on saying it's a done deal until Obama signs it!

Grog said...

And DJ, Obama came out today and said he didn't want the Health Care Bill "jammed through" prior to Brown taking office:

DJ Maths said...

Fair enough! I suppose with that statement, Obama is circumventing those to his left who would lobby for that - which may be an astute move if Health Care remains unpopular. For Obama to salvage a win from the bill - see his approval rating go up, gain support for his future plans - it can't be seen as 'sneaked through' against the will of the people. But I can forsee a few different things happening that will result in Health Care being passed shortly:
1. The House passes the Senate bill. (Unlikely)
2. Brown agrees to some level of cooperation (he's one of the most moderate Democrats, from one of the most Liberal states in the country), and votes for it. (Pretty likely, I would imagine)

The second would be a win for Obama - he'd get some of that much needed Bipartisanship, and Brown would know that he has some room for movement from his own party, and needs to stay moderate to maintain the support of his electorate.

Nate Silver has a good comment on this result:

Grog said...

A good article DJ.

Interesting that Glenn Beck bagged Brown - that can only be a good thing!

Michael said...

US politics confuses me too. The health care bill has been so watered down it's hardly worth passing.

Why would any country not want universal health care?

The other American mystery for me is why a country that has decimal country refuses to go metric.