Thursday, June 05, 2008

Now That the Shouting's Died Down a Little...

perhaps we can get to the important next step.

Senator Obama will be the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States. However, our government needs two branches working together to get laws passed or changed. We need both the White House and Congress together to make progress.

We've seen that illustrated over the past couple of years. We have a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress; but there have been complaints from progressive supporters that they haven't gotten much done. Well, surprise! If a Republican president isn't interested in signing legislation from Congress, it doesn't get completed, no matter how much support there is from the public. If a Republican minority in the Senate is large enough to sustain a filibuster, legislation doesn't get completed, no matter how much support there is. If we really want change, we need a new President from the Democratic Party, and a larger majority of the Democratic Party in both Houses of Congress; and specifically in the Senate a majority that can cut off a filibuster (more than 60).

That's not to say that in principle any of these things are bad. The President is a Constitutional check on the actions of Congress. The capacity of Congress to override a veto is a Constitutional check on the actions of the President. (I could add in interrelationships with the Supreme Court; but that's for a a post less focused on our votes.) A filibuster in the Senate may be a necessary challenge to a possible tyranny of the majority.

So, it's not that the rules are bad. It's not, at least in principle, that the people are bad (I can't speak much beyond principle, because I don't know them personally). So, if we want change, it's our responsibility.

Yes, ours: we're the voters. We're "the people" in this government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." We need to vote, and we need to vote thinking about what will benefit not only ourselves as individuals but all of our neighbors as well.

So, now that the candidates for President are determined, we need to focus on the other part of governing: candidates for Congress. Start paying attention to candidates for Congress, and vote so as to have a Congress that can work with the new President to accomplish the changes we want to see.

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