On Friday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) stood on the floor of the Senate and spoke for approximately nine hours to filibuster the tax cut deal President Obama made with Republicans. The 70 year old Sanders spoke to an empty chamber and had brief assistance from Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) early on in the filibuster.
With all the outrage and dissent from Democrats and the left, one would have thought Sanders would have support and assistance from the aggrieved Democrats during his nine hour speech. But the Democrats did what they have done for the past 23 months; nothing.
Let’s face it, the tax cut deal is not ideal, and giving tax breaks to the wealthy is an insult to all Americans who are not rich. But the president knew Democrats cannot be counted on to support anything because of their fear of the next election or the Republican message machine. After the deal was announced, Democrats came out with false indignation, and in a show of contempt, called Obama everything from sellout to closet Republican.
Who are the real sellouts and closet Republicans? If, during the past 23 months, Democrats had stood with the president and gave him their full support, the tax cut deal may have looked very different. It is also true that Obama could have communicated the deal better and exposed Republicans as the corporatists they are, but based on Democrat’s history, he couldn’t take the chance. With Democrats, one can never know which issue they fully support.
During the health care debate, financial reform debate, and climate change debate, President Obama could never be assured he would have Democratic support. MSNBC pundits claimed that Obama cannot get anything accomplished with clear majorities in Congress. That sounds clever, but the truth is that although the numbers showed majorities, reality proved the numbers lied.
The blue dog Democrats can never be counted as supportive, and often times are allied closer with Republicans than Democrats. All it takes is one Senator to withhold his support and the 60 vote super-majority is destroyed, and then any Republican can block any legislation. At least Republicans unite to further the party’s goals. Jim Bunning successfully blocked unemployment benefits extensions because he wanted to, and it worked because Democrats could not muster the 60 votes necessary to avoid the filibuster tactic.
Part of the reason may indeed be a true objection based on personal beliefs or the beliefs of a representative’s constituency, but whatever the reason, Democrats are not party loyal and that is not always a bad situation. However, there are times when a representative must consider the good of the country over their personal beliefs or poll numbers for the next election. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) held up health care reform over personal beliefs and it nearly cost the country a health care reform package to help millions of Americans.
The anger at President Obama’s deal with Republicans from Democrats is misguided and hollow. Where was the anger at Democrats who have consistently sided with Republicans on every issue since Obama took office? Joe Liebermann caucuses with Democrats, holds an important position in the Senate, and consistently votes with Republicans or assists their obstructionist tactics, and still keeps his seat on an important committee. If Democrats were serious, they would have jerked Lieberman’s chairmanship for being an Independent Republican and obstructing Democrat’s legislation. But in a show of weakness, Democrats allow Liebermann to obstruct their bills and reward his treachery with an important position.
President Obama has never enjoyed a majority in the House or Senate, and as long as Democrats are fractured and frightened of the next election, he never will. It appears that Democrats are only brave when the President makes tough decisions on his own. Republicans knew Obama would never get the support he should have and it is why they got the tax cut deal they wanted. President Obama, for his part, knew some Democrats would stand with Republicans because they are corporatists and afraid of angering conservatives.
It is also worth noting that America is not a left-leaning country and it never will be; the left should realize that they are considered a fringe group by most Americans in part because of misinformation from the right’s pundits. Some on the left think now is the time to recruit a challenger to President Obama, but a strong liberal cannot be elected in a Centrist leaning country. Perhaps if the voters were better informed they may support a liberal candidate, but with the MSM sitting in the pocket of right-wing advertisers, there will be no truth in the media. The media could not even mention Senator Sander’s historic filibuster.
If Democrats in Congress want the president to stand firm against the Republicans, they have to show him he is not alone. As bad as Republicans are for fighting for the wealthy and corporations, at least they are united; regardless that some members know their positions are not good for America. Democrats are working for the good of America and they still cannot present a united front. Now they are railing against President Obama for making a tough decision to save millions of unemployed workers from going hungry and living on the street.
Democrats who are angry with the president have only themselves to blame, and their actions are those of weaklings who never offer support until the fight is over; then they blame the loser. It is just another show of weakness, and they have shown once again why many Americans have such little regard for Democrats.
Senator Sanders stood up for Americans against Republicans, and true to form, only two Democrats stood with him. If Democrats were truly outraged with the tax cut deal, they would have been in attendance and at least given Bernie toilet breaks. But being the frightened, fractured group they are, Democrats ran from the fight. Now we can just wait for them to turn on Senator Sanders for not filibustering long and hard enough. It is what frightened cowards do.