Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Moment of Weakness

I just suffered a passing moment of weakness. I understand what a filibuster is and that it is a tool used by a minority group to stifle passage of majority-favored legislation. In the US Senate it takes a 3 to 2 majority vote to "end debate" and bring an item to a vote by the entire Senate. Without that 60% majority, a bill cannot be brought to a vote. The bill only needs a simple 50% majority to pass, but it needs a 60% majority before the vote to pass the bill can even take place. This clever little trick is a safeguard that prevents a small majority from dominating the Senate.
The Senate Republicans have been using this little trick recently to block Democratic attempts to appear to pass legislation that would begin the process of winding down the Iraq War. I say "appear to pass legislation" because that's all it is. President Bush would veto it and everybody knows it so the passage of legislation by Democrats in the Senate would be in appearance only. Everybody knows that.
So I'm thinking that what the Democrats are doing by appearing to want to pass this legislation is what they did back before they passed the $100 billion war funding bill this spring. They are giving Republicans in the Senate the opportunity to appear to be standing with President Bush. Political appearances are everything in Washington.
Here's the thing. Are the Democrats trying to amend the Defense Appropriations Bill because they actually want to bring the war to an end knowing full well that President Bush will veto any such efforts, or are they doing it to provoke filibustering by the Republicans?
And if they are doing it to promote filibustering, then how can we lay the blame for the filibusters on the Republicans? Aren't the Democrats participating in this charade just as much as the Republicans are?
When Bush says this is all just politics, he's right-on. This is politics! The objective is clearly to bring to the awareness of the American voters where the various Senators stand on supporting President Bush - nothing more, nothing less.
But then after my brief moment of weakness I realized something else. When President Bush says it is all politics, he says it in a deriding way. Bush appeals to the sentiment that politics is superficial and unnecessary. Susan Collins made some sort of comment that rested on this same sort of logic during the all-nighter this week. Republicans want bi-partisan cooperation, not political theater. What minority party wouldn't want that?
But the truth is that in the end, Republicans will get the legislation they want. Their filibuster power combined with Bush's veto power will ensure that Republicans still control Washington. The only power that Democrats hold in Washington right now is political. Democrats hold enough power to force the Republicans to show their hand. That's just the way the system works. That's politics and if you don't like it, Republicans, then what right do you have to call yourself American? This is democracy under the US Constitution.

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