Ed Stein's commentary:
I know people are angry; heck, I’m angry. It’s an inevitability of American politics that the party in power during bad economies gets punished at the polls, and the Democrats certainly haven’t distinguished themselves with the power we’ve given them. But I keep coming back to this question–what has the Republican party done to earn our trust? Their unanimous obstruction of any and all proposals has paralyzed Washington, and helped create the climate of voter anger. To remind you of how extensive this opposition has been, Republicans unanimously (or almost unanimously) opposed the health care bill, the energy bill, the financial reform bill , aid to small businesses, the extension of jobless benefits, the oil spill protection act, and recently and most egregiously, help for 9-11 first responders. More than 120 Obama nominees for important posts and judgeships are still blocked. This is the party we will reward in November, expecting them to do what, exactly? Other than absolute opposition to anything Obama, do they have a plan for getting the nation back to work (other than cutting taxes for the wealthy and cutting Social Security for the rest of us)? So, is this how we will conduct business from now on? The minority party, so long as it has at least 41 votes in the Senate, simply filibusters everything, and sweeps to power in the next cycle. When and if the GOP regains the majority, I can’t wait to hear their furious denunciation of the filibuster they abused to such devastating effect when they were the minority.
But the Democrats will never filibuster everything, not like the GOP has. Republicans tend to value order and obedience above all else. They find it easy to march in lockstep. Any dissent is considered traitorous and is quickly punished. Republicans don't always agree, but they're far more likely to follow the leader anyway.
Democrats aren't like that. Getting them all facing in the same direction is like herding cats. You can do it, sometimes, but it's a lot of work. You can't do it as a regular thing. Democrats tend to value diversity and independence more than obedience and order. And while the GOP is all right-wing these days, Democrats run the gamut from liberal through moderate to very conservative.
Stein says that Democrats "certainly haven't distinguished themselves," but if they found it easy to march in lockstep, they'd be Republicans. And the fact is, if majority vote still ruled in the Senate, the Democrats would have distinguished themselves. They easily had the majority of votes for nearly every issue. And they've got Joe Biden to break ties. When was the last time that was needed? Never, in this Congress, because majority vote is meaningless now.
Republicans are filibustering everything. This is unprecedented (and unconstitutional, I'd say). At most, there were only 58 Democrats in the Senate (now only 57), and it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster. There are two independents who caucus with the Democrats, but one is Joe Lieberman, who campaigned for John McCain and has supported more Republicans than Democrats in recent years. So, frankly, it's remarkable that they've been able to pass anything at all, let alone bills on critical issues like health care reform and financial reform.
I'm angry, too, but I'm angry at the Republicans. And I'm angry at the America people who are apparently too dumb, too gullible, too bigoted, too short-sighted, too cowardly, and/or too apathetic to see what's going on and hold the Republicans responsible. All through eight long years of the Bush administration, I was just astonished at what had become of my people. But today, I think, I'm even more astonished. What has happened to us?