When I wrote Part 1 of this series, the far right of the House, and its leaders, Ted Cruz and Jim DeMint, had brought the world to the edge of disaster. NO EXAGGERATION! At the last possible moment, the Republicans announced they'd lost, and that they'd take the Senate deal, the Senate voted, the House voted, the President signed and we're going to do this all over again in January. If you want to see how your rep voted, click here.
While the public speeches were all subdued and thankful, there are some signs we need to take to heart if we are going to make sure this doesn't happen again. There are lessons learned that will be helpful in 3 months when the government totters on the edge of shutdown, again, and even bigger lessons we need to learn to be able to retake the House next November.
Let's look at some of the things that were said and printed yesterday to get an idea. Possibly the best speech came from Chuck Schumer, who gave props to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi for holding everything together, but also to Mitch McConnell. Schumer pointed out that McConnell has a difficult set of electoral circumstances, but he did what was right for the country, at personal risk. Unmentioned by Schumer was the fact that McConnell got a big slab of pork (in the form of a dam project) tacked on to the Senate deal in a subtle and creative manner. Something old fashioned and heart warming about it, by the way.
Rachel Maddow did the liberal gloat, pointing out what the GOP asked for, and what they actually received. You can see the chart here. In her presentation of the material, Maddow ran through the list in chronological order, and explained in great detail the abject failure of the tea bag contingent. Liberals all felt happy seeing that.
Erick Erickson over at Red State and Jim DeMint at Heritage basically said that they'd be scoring the vote and any Republican who dared vote for the compromise would be primaried. "I'm coming for you" were Erick's exact words. But 87 Republicans ignored that, actually more afraid of a Democratic challenge, and the voters back home, than any right wing primary threats.
The best line of the day, though, goes to Matt Drudge. Mark my words, you'll end up seeing this again and again over the next year. It's akin to Ann Coulter at CPAC in February 2012 saying "We'll nominate Mitt Romney, and we'll lose." Certainly you've seen that clip. And this is Matt Drudge's tweet:
"Speaker Pelosi Part 2: Opening Jan 5. 2015"
There's a lot of polling out from PPP on specific races, and Pew on generic ballots, which indicate that the House will, indeed, return to Democratic hands next cycle. But as I've been telling you for years, polling is a lagging indicator, and we need to start working now if we're going to get the House back next year. We also need to learn lessons and act accordingly.
The biggest takeaway is that the far right wacko contingent does not believe they lost. They believe they just didn't stick together enough. They don't understand how empowered this last three weeks made John Boehner (yes, it hurts to type that) and they honestly believe if they try harder next time, they'll be able to repeal Obamacare. Thus, it's critically important that you let your Congressman/woman know that you appreciate his/her vote to reopen the government and not breach the debt ceiling. Tell them you expect them to vote the same way next round. If you live in a district where your guy voted against the legislation, make sure to send notes saying that you'll be voting against him next year/next cycle (if a Senator) and that he did NOT represent your interests.
This is more important than you think: THANK the Democrats for sticking together. As an aside, since becoming Speaker in 2007, and ever since, even in the minority, Nancy Pelosi has never failed, even once, to deliver the caucus. Send a thank you note so the Democrats know to hang strong. If you rep is a Republican, send a note to say thanks for representing YOU, and asking that your rep cease the insanity of trying to repeal the ACA. They only know what the public thinks if you call/write them. And we KNOW they're listening to the polls and the counts in their individual offices.
This matters to avoid another cliffhanger in January and then February, to get a FAIR negotiated settlement out of the budget talks starting today at breakfast. Yes, that's right, Patty Murray and Paul Ryan are having breakfast today to start the budget talks. And what we want is parity: increased revenues and an end to the sequester. Our reps will only vote for those things if we tell them.
The next thing to do? VOTE this November. Bring a couple friends. If turnout on an odd year election can top 25%, it will chill people for next year's races because they'll know that people are paying attention. Yes, voting rates are abysmal, but there's no reason that can't change.
Finally, tell the DCCC that you will not support blue dogs. Do this by contributing to Act Blue or individual campaigns and not the DCCC. Send a note to the DSCC, DSCC and DNC telling them: no more money unless they only support people who support Democratic values. While we didn't lose a single Democratic vote last night, there are still 7 blue dogs in the House: we need to win 18 seats, we should be able to count on the 200 we have. Drop a note to Steve Israel, DSCC chair. Let him know.
The past three years have been an exercise in Republican idiocy. The party has allowed itself to be subservient to a bunch of no-nothings who don't believe in science, don't understand how government (not politics, GOVERNMENT) operates, prefer to ignore election results, and care more about abortion, gay marriage and creationism than they do about jobs, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP and WIC. These are people who honestly want to have NO government for ANY reason other than to allow them to home school their kids and have as many guns as possible. I'M NOT JOKING. They live in a bubble, and therefore don't have any sort of grasp on reality. We need to remember that every day, and fight to vanquish them from government. We can only do that by raising our voices, communicating with our existing reps, working to retake the House, and above all VOTING.
Yes, it was a success yesterday, but it should never have to be that hard. It wasn't what the Founding Fathers intended. I leave you with this link to Federalist #10, by James Madison, on the issue of factionalism. Line for today?
If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote.
Madison meant "republican" as a nod to the ancient Greek governing principles. There was no "Republican" party during Madison's life. The evolution of the House has allowed "regular vote" to become more difficult than it should be, but the other form of "regular vote" is you and me in the booth.