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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

“Dr. No” Hearts Senate Gridlock


Photo by Stephanie Ziobro

“I love gridlock. I think we’re better off when we’re gridlocked because we’re not passing things.” —Sen. Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK)

Commenting on this remark by the good doctor in a town hall meeting over the weekend, Chris Hayes, Washington editor of The Nation, said on Countdown with Keith Olbermann:

“There’s a crucial asymmetry in the disposition of Republican legislators and Democratic legislators. Democratic legislators—I’m generalizing, but on the whole, want to legislate, they want to pass legislation. They think that’s their job. Republican legislators don’t really want to legislate so much as they want to sort of funnel resources of the state into the hands of their backers and their clients, and they want to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct. I mean, the old William F. Buckley quote is “standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’” That’s why all the things that tie up government, the filibuster, even if in the short term it favors one party or another, in the long term it favors the forces of reaction. Tom Coburn understands that well. I wish that all the Republican senators were as articulate in spelling that out.”

In this comment, Hayes elaborates well on an observation we’ve made before: what Republicans (the breed in power in Washington nowadays) take seriously is not governing but holding power, “power to cut taxes on the wealthy and corporations, to privatize the functions of government that can’t be abolished outright, to weaken labor unions, and to give the oil industry and the military / security complex anything they want.”

In that previous post we linked to an excellent essay from 2006 by political scientist Alan Wolfe, “Why Conservatives Cannot Govern,” where he explains succinctly:

“Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well.”

This obstructionist stance is what the Democrats (wait—we’re in the majority?) must have courage and fortitude and will to overcome, to bulldoze through if necessary. And every call and letter and e-mail from voters telling the Democrats “pass health care reform” and “pass a bigger jobs bill” and “more stimulus” helps assure them they’re doing the right thing. Remember, friends: “An involved, active America is a stronger America!” Roll up sleeves, pick up phone. Rinse. Repeat.

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