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Democrats Blame Senate GOP for Failure to Govern; Voters Still Blame Democrats

Democrats have failed to govern, despite occupying large majorities in Congress and the Presidency. Their failure is not just in situations where external factors limit their control, such as the economy and foreign affairs. They are failures by their own standards. They have repeatedly failed to fulfill promises when they are capable of delivering. For example, Democrats ran on a pledge to pass a drug re-importation bill, but they haven't. Democrats have not advanced any immigration-reform legislation.

Democrats now place the blame for their failure on Republican Senate obstructionism. No doubt, Senate Republicans have done everything they can to make life difficult for Democrats. They have used the filibuster as much as possible to stop Democrats from fulfilling their promises. As the opposition party, the GOP really has no reason to help Democrats achieve success.

Inside the Washington bubble, Democrats are throwing their hands up, saying, "What can we do, there are 41 Republican Senators and they have the filibuster." Somehow, that's considered a perfectly acceptable excuse. Allowing this bizarre use of an arcane rule about the amount of debate needed to shut down the federal government is weirdly accepted as a fact of life in Washington. It is so completely accepted that most of the media report it as hard fact without ever mentioning that it's pure nonsense.

Nothing is stopping 51 Senate Democrats from taking to the floor and in 20 minutes using Senate procedure to eliminate the filibuster. Republicans even threatened to do just that back in 2005. This excuse of the filibuster and Republican obstructionism is merely a self-constructed fantasy that the Senate has impressively convinced the rest of Washington to believe. A political tooth fairy, if you will. But this means Democrats are 100 percent to blame for not passing the laws they promised to and for failing to govern. They actually are fully capable of passing any law if they really want to.

The great irony is that "ignorant" average voters who are uninformed about the filibuster fantasy have correctly put the blame for failure squarely on the majority party: the Democrats. The supposedly savvy Beltway insiders and reporters who think they understand how the Senate works are completely wrong and try to spread the blame. They mistakenly believe the way Senate Democrats choose to run the Senate is how it actually must run. The majority party can handle it very differently.

Now that Democrats have failed, they have only two choices going into the November election. They can try to get all of America to buy into their filibuster fantasy, as they've succeeded in doing with the Washington media. This would require persuading regular people that because some Senators in the early part of the 19th century were a bit sloppy on how they drafted a few Senate rules changes, the huge Democratic majority is utterly powerless if all 41 Republicans don't play nice.

Good luck with that. The other option is to end the stupidity, kill the filibuster and start governing the country as they promised. Use their simple majority in the Senate to pass a bunch of smart policies, and hope voters like what they've done and reward them by voting to keep them in office.

No doubt, you've guessed it: Democrats choose option A, the convoluted story about helpless Democrats, mean Republicans and a weird interruption of a supposedly irreversible 19th-century Senate rule-drafting mistake.

That's going to make for a great campaign slogan. Not only is it a terrible message but it's a complete lie.

Note: Even if you don't support using the "Constitutional option" to eliminate the filibuster, midterm Democrats are still to blame for their failure because they refused to pass a budget this year. No budget means no budget-reconciliation bill, the traditional way to pass a bill with only a simple majority in the Senate. And yes, Democrats could have used reconciliation to advance much of their agenda, including job-growth legislation.

Update - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claims Republicans are "betting on failure" when it comes to the economy because it will help them win in November. Amazingly despite believing Republicans want the economy to fail he still doesn't think it is necessary to quickly take away their filibuster based veto power over any legislation that might help turn the economy around. The Republicans are betting on failure and Reid is still insisting on allowing them to keep the power to make sure that happens.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker is political writer and blogger for FireDogLake. He is an expert on health care policy and the politics of health care reform.

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