Glenn Greenwald: 'This is what the Democratic Party does; it's who they are'
by rossl, Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 06:42:36 PM EST
In a post on Salon, Glenn Greenwald reveals to readers the essential tactic of the Democratic Party leadership. It's not trying to get Republican support, it's not filibuster reform, it's not registering people to vote. It's much more manipulative than that.
It is an explanation for the "lack of spine" that Democrats are often said to have - which, we can now see, is merely a convenient illusion for prominent Democrats. It is a scapegoat that they can use so that progressives will continue voting for them even though we get nothing that we ask for, and instead have to take whatever crumbs are given to us.
So what is it?
This is what the Democratic Party does; it's who they are. They're willing to feign support for anything their voters want just as long as there's no chance that they can pass it.
Read the full piece here. I encourage you to do so!
Democrats in Washington don't just pretend to support things. It's not as simple as lying. They actively manipulate their base of supporters in a few ways.
Just look at Greenwald's inspiration for the piece, Jay Rockefeller. On October 4th, the headlines read, "Jay Rockefeller on the Public Option: 'I Will Not Relent.'"
Jay Rockefeller has waited a long time for this moment. . . . He's  a longtime advocate of health care for children and the poor -- and, as Congress moves toward its moment of truth on health care, perhaps the most earnest, dogged Senate champion of a nationwide public health insurance plan to compete with private insurance companies.
"I will not relent on that. That's the only way to go," Rockefeller told me in an interview. "There's got to be a safe harbor."
And now: "Rockefeller Not Inclined To Support Reconciliation For The Public Plan"
"I don't think the timing of it is very good," the West Virginia Democrat said on Monday. "I'm probably not going to vote for that"
This is not something to be blamed on one Senator, though. It is representative of some larger strategic moves by Democrats.
The primary tactic in this game is Villain Rotation. They always have a handful of Democratic Senators announce that they will be the ones to deviate this time from the ostensible party position and impede success, but the designated Villain constantly shifts, so the Party itself can claim it supports these measures while an always-changing handful of their members invariably prevent it.
Now, it's a common tactic on Capitol Hill (not to say it's a good thing at all) to introduce bills that have no chance of passing in order to gain support with a certain group of people. If a Congressperson were to introduce the "Gun Freedom Act" that allowed everyone to have whatever gun they wanted whenever they wanted it without any restrictions at all, they would probably become a hero of the NRA and their ilk. However, the congressperson could probably introduce the bill without it having a chance of passing and having to face the real world and political repercussions of it.
Recently, though, Democrats have been taking this to a whole new level. I'll let Greenwald explain.
This is why, although I basically agree with filibuster reform advocates, I am extremely skeptical that it would change much, because Democrats would then just concoct ways to lack 50 votes rather than 60 votes -- just like they did here. Ezra Klein, who is generally quite supportive of the White House perspective, reported last week on something rather amazing: Democratic Senators found themselves in a bind, because they pretended all year to vigorously support the public option but had the 60-vote excuse for not enacting it.
They won control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections by pretending they wanted to compel an end to the Iraq War and Bush surveillance and interrogation abuses because they knew they would not actually do so; and indeed, once they were given the majority, the Democratic-controlled Congress continued to fund the war without conditions, to legalize Bush's eavesdropping program, and to do nothing to stop Bush's habeas and interrogation abuses
So be skeptical of politicians, even those who you trust. And don't let the Democrats fool you into taking their bait. After all, they are politicians looking out for themselves. As Howard Zinn said,
If you're a citizen, you have to know the difference between them and you-the difference between what they have to do and what you have to do. And there are things they don't have to do, if you make it clear to them they don't have to do it.
I almost forgot...H/T to my friend Dave Schwab for showing this to me.