Over the long haul of time, the fortunes of our two major political parties rise and fall with the changing tides of the whims of voters. That’s a good thing. Change. Still, it’s always sad to see the underdog of the moment in disarray, wandering in the weeds and accomplishing nothing. Like the National Democratic Party today.
One of the blessings of our system is no one group usually stays in power very long. Nor should they. Idaho’s late Gov. Robert Smylie once told me “Every few years, regardless of which party is in power, it’s good to open up the windows and closets and sweep things out. Keeps things healthy.” He was right.
When discussing the ins and outs of political control these days, the Dems are really out. In the U.S. Senate, they can count on two independents standing with them most of the time. But, that still only gives them 48 to the GOP’s 52. When voting, they’ve got to count on five Republicans seeing things their way to do anything. In the House, even worse. Dems have 194 to the GOP’s 241. One seat is currently vacant. So Democrats get rolled on about every issue.
We’re continually told the party’s two congressional leaders - Sen. Schumer and Rep. Pelosi - are two of the most knowledgeable and effective users of the rules of each body. Well, maybe. Maybe not. If they’re so damned proficient, why aren’t they using their “proficiencies” to get after some things?
I got to thinking about this a day or two after the Women’s March. The streets were filled - in Washington D.C. and hundreds of other, smaller cities in 64 countries - with what we’re told was more than three-million folks. Mostly Democrats in this country, I’m sure. But there had to be some Independents. And Republicans. And many who’d previously been uninvolved in political affairs but finally figured out using the system is the most effective way to have your say.
To a Democrat in Congress, standing on Capitol Hill and watching the mass of people in the streets, one would think many of them would feel invigorated. And, feeling thus, they’d get a fresh wind and dive back into the fray in Congress with more vigor. Not so.
To be sure, there were a few, mostly Democrat members of Congress in the crowd. But not many. Not nearly enough. A lot of faces that should have been seen were likely watching it on TV or doing something else. Not good.
To put it bluntly, the people in the streets are way, way ahead of members of the party that would certainly be their biggest ally in future political warfare. And, because of the oft-repeated videos showing the marchers, they’re still ahead of most Democrats today.
Yes, I’ve watched some of the Dems hammer Trump Cabinet nominees in committee. Really hammer. Good for them. But, in reality, their televised angst will account for nothing in the long run. Just more political posturing. It’s not hard to predict which will eventually be confirmed and which rejected.
To see Shumer, Warren, Brown, Merkley and others pounding away is food for the soul - if you believe the nominees are as unfit and grossly unqualified as they seem to be. But Democrats won’t prevail if the unfit and grossly unqualified President keeps supporting them. All the televised hammering won’t change that.
I’ve covered larger protests in DC but those were focused on a single issue - Viet Nam. The Women’s March was very different. Several million people in the streets around the world for all sorts of reasons and causes. Enough causes that Democrats could adopt any one of them - or several - ride that horse as their own and have a built-in constituency of - maybe - not just Democrats. The list of reasons that brought millions into the streets last week could make a very good party platform that might finally mean something. And get read.
Start NOW to capture the momentum. Start NOW to identify marchers from your communities and states. Start NOW to get them involved at home. Start NOW to register voters. Start NOW to form volunteer squads for continuous action. Start NOW to build your data bases. Start NOW to contact and coordinate with other states and other movements. Start NOW!
If Donkeys in Congress are waiting to get all exercised on the floor in either house - if they’re figuring to out-debate the upside down numbers they face while looking for victory - if they keep lying back in the bushes waiting to pounce at some future date on some future issue - they’re passing up a rare political advantage. If that happens, all the future action is going to have to come from the streets.
Those marchers in the streets are living proof the people are ahead of the politicians on many, many things. Democrats in Congress should stop watching from the cheap seats and get out there onto the asphalt. That’s where the action is.
Get off your butts!