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Democrats Victorious: The U.S. Rejoins the World

by Captain Future Wed Nov 8th, 2006 at 10:30:41 PM EST

As of Wednesday evening in the U.S., Associated Press and TV networks have projected victories for Democrats in the Senate races in Montana and Virginia, which would give the Democrats control of the Senate as well as the House.

There are apparently some ballots still to be counted in Montana, and Republican Senator Allen of Virginia is waiting for the canvas results (checking tallies where votes were counted locally)--if Democrat Webb's margin doesn't appreciably diminish, Allen is expected to concede, possibly on Thursday.

Beyond partisan politics and beyond these shores, what this means is that the United States will slowly but surely rejoin the rest of the world.    


In the House, Democrats are likely to have enough of a majority to pass legislation, when the new Congress convenes in January.  It's more complicated in the Senate, where controversial matters often require more than a majority--60 votes--while the Democrats will have 49, with two Independents that may or may not vote with them on any given matter.

But in both houses, the Democrats will control the committee system.  They will chair the committees and subcommittees.  They have the power to hold hearings, conduct investigations, issue subpoenas to compel testimony under oath.  

This is part of setting the agenda that is the chief power of the majority.

It means that obstructionists will no longer stifle consideration of alternative energy proposals, or threaten scientists who are not climate crisis deniers.

It means that the run-up to the Iraq war and the conduct of the war will be thoroughly investigated--that's already being organized.

It means that through legislation and hearings, support will once again grow louder for America to enter into international agreements on nuclear proliferation, global heating, human rights and international justice.

It will mean investigation and oversight concerning policies and practices on torture that relate to the Geneva Convention.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is already gone. (He resigned, or was fired.)Newly reelected Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has promised this nomination will not be rubberstamped.  She said she has hard questions to ask.  

Appropriate perhaps for this instant messaging age,the Democrats have a First 100 Hours plan: to raise the minimum wage, enact all the 9-11 Commission reforms, force drug companies to negotiate prices for Medicare drug benefits, and so on.  

But the long-range effects of the U.S. rejoining the international community will be felt over months and years. (Although there are elections in 2 years that could reverse this majority, historically it has not often happened so quickly.)  

So to paraphrase President Kennedy, it will not all happen in the first one hundred days, nor in the first one thousand days.  But let us begin.            

Display:
ROTFL! You are such an optimist it is hilarious! Think back very carefully to the Clinton years. As a reminder, those were when:

  • "Reform" shut down the welfare system.
  • The U.S. invaded several sovereign states without U.N. permission.
  • The SUV was invented as a sop to the UAW.
  • Senate Democrats voted unanimously against Kyoto.
  • Hillary's health-plan-to-save-the-insurance-companies-from-single-payer was proposed and then dropped like a hot potato.

Frankly, I hope I am completely wrong and all you say does in fact take place. But I strongly doubt it will. We will now see a great test of Ralph Nader's theory that the two parties are virtually equivalent.
by asdf on Wed Nov 8th, 2006 at 11:37:15 PM EST
You may be the first person to ever accuse me of being an optimist. However, Nader thinking is what got us G.W. Bush in the first place.  Remember when there was no difference between him and Al Gore?

There is a difference, and it means something--for one thing, that the U.S. will move towards rejoining the international community, because the neocon spell has been broken. Issues like the climate crisis and alternative energy will be debated on far different terms than before.  

I fully expect to be upset by some of what Congress does and doesn't do.  But if the past six years haven't convinced everyone that there is a crucial difference between Bush Republicans and Democrats, I don't know what it would take.  I don't expect perfection--or, more to the point, perfect adherence to what I favor--but I believe what I outlined is going to happen.      

"The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

by Captain Future (captainfuture is at sbcglobal dot net) on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 01:38:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nader thinking is what got us G.W. Bush in the first place.

No, a bland campaign, triangulation, a failure to take on Republican election tricks, and not inspiring 50% of eligible voters to even go to vote is what got G.W. Bush in the first place. Just remember who was Al Gore's vice. Al Gore should have won by a landslide, and had Nader not ran, most Nader voters would have joined that 50% sitting at home anyway.

But if the past six years haven't convinced everyone that there is a crucial difference between Bush Republicans and Democrats, I don't know what it would take.

While many who reject both major parties have claimed lack of difference, what matters is another thing: has the Dems' difference the potential to bring about significant positive change? If Dems in power mean only intermittent delays in the Republoscum push to the right (as in the Clinton era), iut's not worth much, if it means ineptness allowing the Repubs to regroup and prepare for a real landslide next time (as would have happened if Kerry wins and 'owns' Iraq), it may be even worse.

However, a lot of the Dems elected yesterday are a new generation. Although idiots like Rahm are there to meddle, and many are too centrist to support significant reforms, I'd hope that thery would be willing to do things differently. One prerequisite is for the base to push them on.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 03:31:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nader is duplicitous pond scum, who cost us the election of 2000, and more than any one person gave us W.

Be nice if we could send him to Europe as a roving ambassador.

You folks would get your fill of that one quick enough.

Hopefully someone would take him to St. Petersburg, for Rasputin's Christmas party.

"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins

by EricC on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 11:57:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, Nader is responsible for the theft of Florida and for Gore's atrocious, grey campaign.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 12:01:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely Nader is the Big Bogeyman and Lieberman, Catherine Harris and the DLC are all fine.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 01:59:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EricC demonstrates in emotional terms why the US is not a democracy.

Just as a side note - I haven't heard nearly the same vehemence for the Libertarians who finally deserted Bush, but could not stand to actually vote for his defeat by supporting the Democrats.

http://www.lp.org/media/article_438.shtml


aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 04:31:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He rather better demonstrates why the US would be better off with at least optional 2nd preference Instant Run-off voting (aka preferential voting in Australia).


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 06:40:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I stopped reading the NYT (and realised it was not a "liberal" newspaper when it ran an editorial askking Nader to pull out of the election on the grounds that "what the American people deserve is a clear-cut race between two candidates" and "anything else is not true democracy".

Then in 2004 the Democrats spent more effort trying to keep Nader off the ballot than debating the Republicans on policy.

Any country where ballot access and voter registration are issues is not a functioning democracy.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 06:42:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You may be the first person to ever accuse me of being an optimist. However, Nader thinking is what got us G.W. Bush in the first place.  Remember when there was no difference between him and Al Gore?

Al Gore lost the 2000 election all by himself. He should have won it with half his brain tied to his back and ran poorly, and debated even worse.

The Al Gore we see now didn't even materialise until after 2002, possibly until 2004, and had today's Gore run in 2000 he would have definitely put on a spirited show, but he would have been tagged as radical and unelectable even by his own party. Much more centrist Democrats were called unelectable in 2004, after all.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 05:19:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus, several DINOs share responsibility for the Iraq debacle, and can't be expected to cooperate much in exposing the full truth.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 03:11:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just double checked, and it seems that what happened on Tuesday was a change in the balance of power in Congress, with a lame duck Republican President remaining in the White House. Most of what you refer to happened with a Democratic President after the Republicans had taken charge of both chambers of Congress.

Hillary's failure to set forward a health care plan that could pass Congress was, of course, part of what set it off.

The "departure" for the World of radical right fantasy began, after all, in 1994, not in 2000.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 10:23:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that the House controls the money, and that this will be the most powerful weapon in limiting the President's room for action?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 03:30:59 AM EST
It is constitutionally so that the House controls spending, and that's the ultimate power they have. Some Democrats have said that they will find ways to use this power to bring Iraq to a conclusion, though other methods will be tried first.

As for earlier posts, I don't totally defend the campaign that Gore waged.  But it is simply and demonstrably not true that there was no difference between Gore and Bush, nor that there would have been no difference between them as president.  The idea that Gore would have dealt with 9-11 and Iraq in the same way, or denied the climate crisis, is patently absurd.  While Gore probably won the election anyway, his margin of victory in Florida would likely have been unassailable if some voters had looked beyond their perfectionism and cynicism, and understood that they were hiring a president, from a total of two candidates.

It's a two party system here, and that's not going to change for a long time, if ever. And if we don't make this work, we won't survive.  But I can see how my lesser amount of cynicism would look like optimism to some.      

"The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

by Captain Future (captainfuture is at sbcglobal dot net) on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 04:14:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it is simply and demonstrably not true that there was no difference between Gore and Bush

That was emphatically not my argument.

that Gore would have dealt with 9-11 and Iraq in the same way, or denied the climate crisis, is patently absurd.

Which was not the argument. I actually liked and like Al Gore, the question is what would have happened in practice. That he would have dealt with Iraq in a Desert Fox way, that Repubs would have assaulted him endlessly after 9/11 whatever he did (a real 'war on terror' would last long years and would show up no spectacular successes), that Congress Repubs would have blocked him, that the Democrats would have continued to be in the spell of the DLC, and that not much would have happened in practice about Kyoto (though more than had Nader not made his candidacy: Al Gore ended his total silence on environmental issues once he feared losing votes in that direction), and that Repubs would probably have won by a landslide in 2004, doing much more damage afterwards than they could in the past six, is unfortunately also likely.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 04:51:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fine.  It's all speculation about the past.  I'm interested in the present and especially the future, and while the past is educational it is not necessarily predictive. What I presented in my diary is factual.  It's not the 90s or 2000 or 2004.  It's more of an opportunity and, in terms of the U.S. rejoining the international dialogue on a more constructive basis, the Democrats capturing both houses of Congress (which as of today is official) is likely to begin that process.

Ralph Nader contributed a lot to knowledge and attitudes about particular issues and facets of contemporary life and politics.  As a candidate for president in 2000 he was a disaster, and his attitude and that of many Greens in the U.S. was destructive, and one of the factors that gave us GW Bush. I happen to live in one of the few parts of the U.S. where the Greens are somewhat influential and even hold some local offices. While I agree with some especially on environmental and energy issues (and even voted for one for city council; he lost) as a political party they are small, internally contentious, self-righteous and clueless, and this election they lost much of what influence they had even locally.

 I'm sorry if I react strongly to the destructive side of Nader's self-righteousness, but I regard it as a tragic flaw, with tragic consequences.  There's a thin line between trenchant analysis and self-righeous cynicism, and an addiction to anger--and unfortunately I've seen too much of all of it. We've been waiting for six painful years for some sign of hope here, and we've finally got it. It is a further responsibility for those of us who voted Democrat and who are Democrats to keep the pressure on these elected officials to do the right thing. But I'm not about to let cynicism dampen the energy that may yet save the future.      

"The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

by Captain Future (captainfuture is at sbcglobal dot net) on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 04:39:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's all speculation about the past.  I'm interested in the present and especially the future

...and then you again go on about Nader (and that like I haven't said anything in the previous discussion). I better leave it at that.

It is a further responsibility for those of us who voted Democrat and who are Democrats to keep the pressure on these elected officials to do the right thing.

Well noted, thanks.

But I'm not about to let cynicism dampen the energy that may yet save the future.

There may be a cultural issue here. Pessimism or realism doesn't equal cynicism. My fear was actually that premature celebration and underestimation of difficulties will dampen the energy that may yet save the future.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 04:50:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Premature celebration?  When you win the damn election, that's premature? We've waited six years to be pleased about something!  Merely reversing the neocon dominance of this one-party government is a very big deal here. I don't know if you live here, but Bush and the way Republicans ruled has threatened the political life of this country profoundly, and this victory is a very, very big deal.  

  Apart from disagreements about the past (you're right--I brought it up again) what bothers me most about getting jumped on for this diary is that it doesn't make any extravagant promises. It points out that through the committee system of the Congress, and through the political power of a party that holds majorities in both houses, the U.S. begins to rejoin the international dialogue on problems that face us all, like the climate crisis, energy, nuclear proliferation, the Geneva Conventions, etc.  I thought for Europeans that might be construed as good news, too. I don't see that what I actually wrote promises perfection.  

   

"The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

by Captain Future (captainfuture is at sbcglobal dot net) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 05:04:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Greens... this election they lost much of what influence they had even locally.

This is factually wrong. Greens won mayor of Richmond CA, the first city of 100,000+ with a Green mayor, and did well all across California. While they got off the ballot in three states, they gained ballot access in Illiois (the first third party since 1920).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 05:03:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was referring to my locality.

Greens also came close to allowing Republicans to keep the majority in the Senate by getting 25,000 votes in Virginia.

 I've been very sympathetic to the Green Party in the past, and disenchanted with the Democrats, but the nightmare of 2000, plus a lot of personal experience, has brought me back to the Democratic party.  There will be a two party system in the U.S. for my lifetime, and when the stakes are extraordinarily high in terms of the damage one party can do, it's important to work within it. Besides which, the Green Party I know is not a party.  They go on about how much more virtuous they are, and stab each other in the back. I once found myself debating the guy who became their 04 presidential candidate (he wasn't supposed to be there--it was a forum about Democratic candidates pre-primary), and the guy flat out lied.  The Greens here have dissolved into warring factions, subdividing an already small group. They may be no less moral than other politicians, but they will never admit that.  Their self-righteousness and ideological purity paralyzes them.        

"The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

by Captain Future (captainfuture is at sbcglobal dot net) on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 04:49:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe the 'Virginia Greens' who were on the ballot for the Senate election are a local right-wing pressure group who hijacked the Green name and have no connection with the US Green Party. Their votes could easily have gone to Allen rather than Webb if they had stood down.  
by saugatojas on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 10:48:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Upon checking, you are right! The right-wing Greens are the Independent Greens of Virginia, but there is also the legit Green Party of Virginia. The G G Parker who got 1.1% was indeed from the right-wing version.

On a more general note, I continue to protest the attitude of big party supporters that assume that certain voters' votes belong to them.

  • A voter's vote belongs to the voter.
  • That voter may as well stay at home if denied the (third) option.
  • There are much more people already staying home than voting for third parties in the US. This is your campaign's real failure, not not getting the voters of third parties.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 10th, 2006 at 03:10:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However, it should be noted that the first point:
  • A voter's vote belongs to the voter.

means that care must be taken to avoid the details of the Australian version, where people may either put in an exhaustive list of preferences, or vote for a party "above the line", with their preferences distributed at the direction of the party.

That leads to all manner shenanigans, including a Coalition (conservative) Prime Minister gaining power in part due to the preference distribution of a Trotskyite party.

Optional second preference is close enough for me ... it allows people to express their support for their preferred candidate, and also express their view on the lesser of two evils between the major party candidates.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Nov 12th, 2006 at 09:42:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are three main arrows in the Congressional quiver. One is the power of the purse, with all tax legislation originating in the House, and all tax and appropriations having to pass both chambers.

The second is the ability to raise matters for public discussion, with the Majority leadership allocating Committee chairs who decide what hearings will be held and when, and critically what witnesses will be called under subpoena. Perjury laws apply, as well as the right to not incriminate yourself, so expect a lot of failures to recall and claims of 5th amendment rights when the defense rip-off artists are brought to town for a roasting.

The third is, of course, the control of legislative agenda. Much of what the President hopes to "accomplish" is in fact simply proposals for legislation, and if the House Majority can tie the proposal up in committee, the proposal dies there.

Politically, cutting off funding for the Iraq occupation will be portrayed as abandoning the troops, and large numbers of House Democrats will be unable to vote for that.

Cutting off funding for the privitization of the occupation depends on the success of hearings into war profiteering, so that will not be immediate, but over the course of 2007 it will be possible to make the occupation in Iraq far less lucrative for the blood merchants.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 10:43:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well they've bought the tickets, we've yet to see if they take the trip.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 09:18:06 AM EST
This story shows just how early celebrations can be:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After mulling a bid for the number three job in the House Democratic leadership, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Il, opted instead Thursday to make a run for the chairmanship of the House Democratic Caucus.

Emanuel, who is largely credited as the mastermind behind the Democrats winning control of the House, had briefly entertained the idea of running for House majority whip, but chose to pursue the chairmanship, which is one rung lower on the leadership ladder.

Even before the results in Tuesday's election came in, Democrats began to speculate that Emanuel would run for a senior leadership post. But a race for whip would have pitted Emanuel against current Caucus Chairman Jim Clyburn, D-South Carolina, who is a prominent member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Emanuel has been criticized by some members of the CBC for what they perceive as overly aggressive tactics.

"I seek this post, and not any other, because I believe what we need now is a unified Democratic Caucus, focused squarely on the business of moving this country forward," Emanuel stated in a release from his office.

A Democratic source says that presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, "has been discouraging Rahm from running." This source added that centrists and many of the incoming freshmen were supportive of electing Emanuel as whip, but there was concern that a public fight with the CBC could highlight divisions in the caucus when the focus is on a message of party unity.

The netroots credit Dean's 50-state-strategy, the centrists credit Rahm's effort to bring in conservative Democrats. The fight is far from over even for the Democratic Party.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 05:51:17 PM EST
However, note that within the Democratic caucus, the progressive caucus is the biggest winner ... and this is the first time that the House Majority has been formed by the party with a minority in the Old South for half a century.

Sherrod Brown, a member of the House progressive caucus, wins a place in the Senate, while the open rural Ohio River Valley seat that he left behind was held.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 9th, 2006 at 06:48:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent!  I am very hopeful also, regardless of all the op-opinions of what was, or may have been.  Having felt the daily, sociopathic atrocities of the past 6 years, I finally see an open door to all kinds of possibilities.

This is a victory of hope through what seemed an eternity and it is to be celebrated because "the people" have seen through the lies.

The work goes on with extra energy, to fine tune the direction of those elected, before they get too comfortable.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Nov 12th, 2006 at 07:30:24 AM EST


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