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The Progressive

Franken, the Fight, and the Wellstone Seat

Al Franken Needs to Keep Fighting

Congratulations to Al Franken!

Thanks for taking down the pestiferous Norm Coleman, who had usurped the seat of Paul Wellstone and who had refused to give it up for way too long.

Good riddance, Norm Coleman.

And take that, Bill O’Reilly, the big bully who trashed Franken at every opportunity, and then some.

Franken is also to be praised for his pioneering work in progressive talk radio, having launched Air America when many, like O’Reilly, said it couldn’t be done.

Now that Franken is soon to be sworn in as Senator, that leaves the Democrats with the magic number of 60—a filibuster-proof majority.

You know, we’ve heard for a long time about why the Democrats can’t accomplish progressive goals.

First, it was that we had Bush and Cheney in the White House.

Well, that excuse no longer holds.

Then, it was that the Dems don’t have control of the Senate.

Well, now they not only have a majority. They have a super-majority.


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There really is no excuse for not pushing a progressive agenda through, no excuse for offering half a loaf when we can now get the whole loaf.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the Independent socialist from Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats, has made this point strongly.

"I think that with Al Franken coming on board, you have effectively 60 Democrats in the caucus, 58 and two Independents," he told Sam Stein of the Huffington Post.

"I think the strategy should be to say, it doesn't take 60 votes to pass a piece of legislation. It takes 60 votes to stop a filibuster. I think the strategy should be that every Democrat, no matter whether or not they ultimately end up voting for the final bill, is to say we are going to vote together to stop a Republican filibuster. And if somebody who votes for that ends up saying, 'I'm not gonna vote for this bill, it's too radical, blah, blah, blah, that's fine.'"

Sanders blasted the Dems for trying to placate Republicans.

"I think the idea of going to conservative Republicans, who are essentially representing the insurance companies and the drug companies, and watering down this bill substantially, rather than demanding we get 60 votes to stop the filibuster, I think that is a very wrong political strategy," Sanders added.

That’s the fighting spirit Obama and Harry Reid ought to embrace.

It’s the fighting spirit that Paul Wellstone embodied.

Franken has already proved himself to be a fighter.

He needs to continue in that role to move the Democratic Party forward and to honor his—and our—beloved Paul Wellstone.

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Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild is senior editor of The Progressive magazine.

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