Why the Democrats Keep Losing

Here is a quote from a recent New York Times article on the health care reform legisltaion:

“Even if Democrats could reach agreement among themselves, Republicans have vowed to use every parliamentary weapon to block the legislation. By using budget reconciliation procedures, Senate Democrats could limit debate, but not necessarily the number of amendments, and Republicans are prepared to offer dozens.

Centrist Democratic senators are also reluctant to use the (budget reconciliation) procedure, knowing Republicans would attack it as an effort to jam the bill through the Senate.”

These two paragraphs succinctly summarize why the Democrats keep losing political battles with Republicans. The Republicans unashamedly threaten to use “every parliamentary weapon to block the legislation.” They even somehow manage to do this while largely avoiding being labelled as obstructionists, despite the Democrats claim that Republicans are the “party of no.”

Meanwhile, Democrats are “reluctant” to try even one hardball procedure in an attempt to pass the bill, fearful of how the Republicans would attack them. The sad part is they are probably right. Republican attacks would harm them — while Democratic attacks on Republicans are ignored like water running off a duck.

Some friends of mine have defended this sorry situation, claiming that the explanation is that Democrats refuse to stoop to the low level of Republicans. “You don’t win by doing exactly what you criticize your opponents of doing.”

It sounds nice. But the facts say they are wrong. The Republicans are winning by doing just that. What they are doing is not illegal or immoral or unethical. It’s just not very nice. But it works. It’s a sad state of affairs, but it’s reality. And until Democrats accept this, they are destined to lose.

While the Democrats try to pass some vague muddled “health care reform,” the Republicans are opposing “Nancy Pelosi’s trillion dollar government takeover of health care.” Which sound bite do you think gets more traction with the public?

And so it goes.

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