It is imperative that the Democrats control the senate come 2013 by a wide margin. Unfortunately that margin will, as usual, not include any black senators.
American voters will not elect African-Americans to the U.S. Senate. There are none serving in the 105th congress. Our president was the last to be voted in; his replacement to fill his term was Roland Burris, also black. Burris was appointed by then-Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich, who, himself, was subsequently appointed to a 14-year-term in a cell at a federal prison in a Denver suburb. Burris left the seat November, 2010 after Republican Mark Kirk surprisingly won two special elections – one for the remaining days of the Obama term, the other for the six-year term to follow. This despite the fact he inflated his military record.
Counting Obama and the brief Burris appearance, there has been a total of six blacks in the senate – ever! That contrasts with 44 currently serving in the house. Come election time, rural and small-town Republican conservatives statewide block yet another black candidate from access to the august Senate Chamber. District house races are a different story where the urban fiddle often plays the tune.
And man, do black and white Democrats ever need that senate access come swearing-in day, January 3 of 2013. The presidency and the House are a lock. The former for the Democrats, the latter, the Republicans. Also a lock, another Republican-driven 2 years of incredibly selfish and anti-American gridlock as the radical Republicans continue their attempts to dissolve the federal government, hand all social programs and education to for-profit billionaires, deregulate everything, decimate health care and legislate ongoing funding to annihilate every Muslim man, woman and child while reviving the cold war with Russia with money again being the driving avatar.
A narrow margin of senate seats in favor of the Democrats is meaningless, other than to serve as an endpoint for the next ludicrous house bill. It’s an almost impossible task, but Democrats should dedicate every waking hour and every last bank account and Super Pac dollar to making it happen. I’m talking about a supermajority of 60 democratic senators.
Without it, the Democrats are slaves to the filibuster that requires a 3/5th supermajority vote to trigger cloture. So powerful a weapon is the filibuster that just the threat of some blowhard dominating the senate floor for God knows how long is enough to topple a bill or appointment.
The primary reason 60 Democratic senators need to be at the epicenter of any political strategy is because Barack Obama, as president, may appoint as many as 3 Supreme Court justices. He’s already brought two very sharp women to the highest bench in the land, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Another equally sharp lady, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is going on 20 years on the bench and at 79 has had a sad history of cancer including her latest bout with about the deadliest form you can acquire – pancreatic cancer. Over a dozen years earlier she conquered colon cancer. It’s been about 4 years since a tumor was removed from her pancreas. The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is 5%.
Patrick Swayze, Michael Landon and Steve Jobs were all in their mid-50’s when they succumbed to this deadly disease. Luciano Pavarotti, the wonderful, larger than life operatic tenor was another victim though at the more advanced age of 71.
Antonin Scalia is 76 and apparently in good health, but he’s reaching the age where one is human flypaper for any number of opportunistic health destroying pests. Anthony Kennedy is also 76 while Steven Breyer is 73. Clarence Thomas, he of the wafer-thin CV and a vow of judicial silence, is 63, the oldest of the trio of relatively young (by court standards) right-wing justices. His fellow radical ideologues include Chief Justice John Roberts and Sam Alito whose ultra conservative fundraising efforts are a thing of legend. And you thought Thomas’ wife was the only far-right activist connected to the court.
Even some of the younger justices, male and female could be at risk. Take a look at your local obituaries. There are as many 50-60 year olds as 80-90 year olds. Of course Barack Obama must be elected to protect the people from the five-man corporate Supreme Court, but I think that’s a given. I beseech Politicus readers to get fully involved in the process of voting Democrats into every elective office, most especially the U.S. Senate.
The numbers are not great. Six senate Democrats are retiring as well as ‘Independent’ Joe Lieberman. The Republicans are losing just three of their number to retirement, including a thoughtful moderate in Olympia Snowe who is just fed up with the new breed in her party. Seven Republican Senators are running again, with familiar names Lugar and Hatch among their number. Scott Brown is also in the mix. Hopefully Elizabeth Warren will take his measure. I’m in awe of Ms. Warren. I’ve not been this excited about a senatorial candidate since I helped Sherrod Brown back in Ohio.
Democrats (with independents Lieberman and Bernie Sanders) currently outnumber Senate Republicans, 52-46.
To get to a 60-40 advantage, senate Democrats will need a combination of loaves and fishes, David Copperfield and about a 90% voter turnout. Unlikely in the best of times. You can do the remaining math. The best hope for progressives is that independents go strong for the Democrats and reasonable Republican voters come out of the ether and install moderate clones of Susan Collins and Snowe under their banner.
Otherwise, it’s two more years of pure hell. On the plus side, even the most disconnected and misinformed Republicans will finally figure it out by 2014 from the confines of their cardboard boxes.