My participation in politics has a long and simple history. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed 2 years before I was eligible to vote. Since I was eligible, I have always voted -- even though I had to hold my nose and choose from unacceptable alternatives at times. I have simply believed that the right to vote is too precious to ever NOT register my choice, however unpleasant. Habits are important to the development of good character, and I believe that the character of a citizen of the USA includes the habit and practice of voting. Please stay with me. There is a point I am about to make.
When a majority of Americans who voted in 2008 selected Barack Obama as the first African American President, our first impulse was to celebrate and rejoice about the power of our votes to accomplish this history-making milestone. Little did we know that what we really did was to unleash the inner racist in many of those who opposed his election. We thought our vote in November 2008 was a victory. It was only the opening skirmish in a series of successive battles that may accumulate to destroy his presidency. Here is what I mean. The first euphoric pronouncements to follow his election suggested that we may have entered the first stages of post-racial politics, as well as societal transformation. The reality is that we unleashed a series of tactics that have weakened or stopped nearly every inititative that he has embarked upon.
How is this possible? A close observation of the mechanics of national politics brings into sharp relief the power of the Senate Minority to cripple a president.
The Filibuster and Cloture Vote
The filibuster is a U.S. Senate pracice whereby a single Senator, or his minority party, can block full Senate consideration of a bill or nomination by extending debate on the proposal indefinitely. The resulting "filibuster" can ordinarily be stopped only by a "cloture" vote, which requires 60 of the 100 Sentators (a supermajority) to vote to end debate, and bring the bill or nomination to a final vote. Today, a minority party can indefinitely put off a vote on a bill or nomination by simply indicating to the Senate leaders that this indefintie delay is desired -- unless there are 60 Senators in favor of cloture. One rule -- Senate Rule XXII guarantees unlimited discussion absent cloture.
President Obama has been continually criticized for "caving in" to the Republicans holding the American public hostage to the tactics surrounding Senate Rule XXII. His approach has been to attempt to find some common ground. The reality is that he must always negotiate from the starting point point of this rule in the Senate. Every negotiation begins and ends with "how can we get 60 votes in the Senate?"
So, now we have arrived at a point of gridlock where he can get no nominations approved, Federal judges appointed, nor budgets implemented without the inclusion of Republican preferences in the Senate. If another Supreme Court vacancy occurs before the 2012 election, there will not be nomination hearings nor a vote in the Senate. His opposition has the power to prevent even this appointment.
The midterm elections of 2010 turned over control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans, so the Senate is faced with considering the extremist legislation from the Republican leaders in the house. The only saving grace for the President is that the Senate majority leader is saving him from having to actually veto such foolish measures. The remaining power of the majority in the Senate is to control the agenda and committees. So, what is Pesident Obama to do?
I believe that the deficit/debt limit negotiation represents the final nail in Obama's coffin -- with the establishment of the Super Committee that will gut funding for programs and job creation capabilities of the Federal Government in such a way that will cast the country back into a recession before the next election. His upcoming "Jobs Speech" will only serve to solidify the gridlock. There is no reason for the Republican opposition to compromise.
Such is the intent to destroy this President, that his opposition is willing to throw a large portion of the Middle Class and nearly all of the poor under the bus to destroy his presidency. History will record that these things occured on his watch. The only people who are able to withstand this assault are the rich.
So a Presidency which used as its signature call to action a vision of hope and change, has only served to unleash the fiercest opposition in history. In the past, rich white men who disagreed with each other could gather in back rooms and come to terms that prevented the baby from being thrown out with the bath water. With Obama, it is different. He is "the other." He is not one of the powerful and the rich.
A victory for any of the progressive initiatives that his supporters want him to champion is a loss for the rich and powerful who have been enjoying a 10 year redistribution of wealth that will guarantee their dominance for generations. All they have to do is "blame Obama for the 21st Century depression" that lies ahead.
If this scenario plays out as I have described it, the Destiny of Barack Obama will be the President who ushered in the double dip recession to follow the mess G.W. Bush left behind. The Republican opposition would rather blame Obama, than gvie him credit or support initiatives that will lead us out of the recession to a new prosperity.
There is another end to this story. I will share my views about how to craft a different end to this story in my next blog post.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS