Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Back to the long game

If Senator Manchin is right, the vote on gun background checks later today won't pass. That means that a proposal with the support of 90% of the American public and a majority of Senators won't pass because of Republican obstructionism.

I must admit that this one has me a bit discouraged on an even bigger scale. Just the other day I wrote about the possibility that the fever was breaking. The idea was that with just a few Republicans breaking ranks, there could be momentum in passing gun reform and immigration reform leading up to a possible deal on the budget to avoid catastrophes like another showdown on raising the debt ceiling.

If the vote this afternoon on gun background checks goes down in defeat, it means the first leg of that stool will have failed. Its hard to avoid being discouraged at this point.

So its time - once again - to listen to our First Lady Michelle Obama.
Here's the thing about my husband: even in the toughest moments, when it seems like all is lost, Barack Obama never loses sight of the end goal. He never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise, even if it comes from some of his best supporters. He just keeps moving forward.

And in those moments when we're all sweating it, when we're worried that the bill won't pass or the negotiation will fall through, Barack always reminds me that we're playing a long game here. He reminds me that change is slow — it doesn't happen overnight.

If we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight and doing what we know is right, then eventually we will get there.

We always have.
I find that the long game comes into view when I look at these events through the eyes of Republicans.

On gun reform, they may win the vote later today - but they lost the argument on December 14, 2012 when 20 babies were so ruthlessly lost. What they have to sell to the public is either the idea that we can live with that kind of carnage, or that the answer is more guns.  How would you like to be the one running on that platform?

When it comes to immigration reform, all we have to do is look at the quandary Senator Rubio is in right now to understand how this one is playing out. He obviously wants to run for president and knows he doesn't have a prayer of winning unless he can get a bill passed that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers. And yet the tea party darling is now getting HUGE push-back from the tea partiers for proposing it (warning: wingnut link). And so once again - winning the vote (against immigration reform) is a sure fire way to lose the argument.

Finally on the budget. This is where President Obama putting chained CPI on the table - and the outcry from the left about that - comes into play.  If Republicans refuse to work with him, it will be impossible to ignore that he was willing to go petty far out on the limb to meet them more than half way and they wouldn't budge.

The only thing the Republicans have ever had to work with is disgust from the public directed at all politicians resulting in "a pox on both their houses." We've always known that's their plan. By refusing to work with President Obama and Democrats, they have painted themselves into such an extreme corner that they can't sell any policy alternatives to the public.

On the other hand, President Obama has done everything possible from his end to move the ball down the field. He has:
  • Used the bully pulpit to effectively rally voters behind solutions
  • Gone on a "charm offensive" to win over Republican legislators
  • Been willing to take tremendous heat from his supporters to meet Republicans more than half way
This is how a pragmatic president who believes in the democratic process sets the table for the long game. If Republicans cooperate, we have achieved some common-sense solutions to the challenges that face us. But if we lose the Congressional battles, we win the argument.  And then its up to the voters to decide.


  1. It is infuriating that this bill isn't going to pass. This morning I called Grassley's office only to get the usual scripted BS. Told them that I' sure the NRA score and money will help him sleep next time a room full of innocent children are slaughtered.
    The rest of your post is so spot on.
    I am really glad I found this site. It's an oasis of reason and sanity after what I've been seeing at other so called Democratic blogs that read more like Red State these days.

  2. Unfortunately, the haters on the GOS are still only seeing the short game and don't give a shit about anything aside from being right at all costs.

  3. Unfortunately, Dems like Heidkamp (sp?), Baucus, Donnelly, Pryor and Begich are siding with Republicans to block a vote on background checks. It's infuriating, frustrating and pathetic... none have the courage of their convictions, assuming they even have convictions. We know they don't have courage.

    Right now, I doubt that the Senate could even pass a squirt gun control bill.