Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been hearing a frantic message from the Democrats in Congress: You may be disappointed that we haven’t kept our campaign promises, but if you don’t let us keep control of Congress, the Republicans will be in charge, and then things will be really bad! It’s a measure of how low the Democrats have sunk, that they can only claim to be the merely mildly terrible right wing dishonest corporate political machine, instead of the seriously terrible version.
In a time when people are busy looking for work or putting in extra hours in the desperate hope that they’ll keep their jobs, voters have to make a very practical decision: Are the Democrats worth defending any more? Should people devote their scarce time and money to a group of politicians who can only claim that, while they may be detestable, they’re not as rotten as the Republicans?
Consider the environment, a point of growing concern among Democratic voters.
Democrats in Congress seem to have concluded that all they need to do is talk about the environment, and voters will be happy with that. They crafted only a watered down climate bill that gave outrageous subsidies to coal and oil, and then in the House, large numbers of Democrats voted against even that. The Senate Democrats didn’t give even that much effort. They just delayed, and delayed, promising they’d get to the legislation later, until a few months ago, when they announced that they’d abandon the climate bill.
That sad, prolonged death for climate legislation was repeated with other, more targeted, environmental bills. The Shark Conservation Act, a bill to ban shark finning, is a good example. Last December, I noted that, though the House had passed the legislation, Senate Democrats had not yet taken action. The Senate Commerce Committee, led by John Rockefeller, had reviewed the legislation and given it a favorable rating. Surely, I thought, the Democratic leadership of that committee would soon bring the bill to a vote, so that the whole Senate could approve it.
I was wrong. Senator Rockefeller blocked the Shark Conservation Act from consideration. He wouldn’t even let the legislation get a committee vote. Now, the 111th Congress is done with, all the representatives and senators too busy campaigning for re-election to be bothered with doing any more work. So, the Shark Conservation Act is going to die.
The Democratic Party can’t plausibly blame the Republicans for this. There wasn’t intense opposition among the Republican Party to the Shark Conservation Act. Sure, Senator Tom Coburn objected this week to the bill being brought immediately, without committee action, to the floor of the Senate, but Coburn’s action only took place because of Rockefeller’s inaction. The Senate Democrats had plenty of time to pass this worthwhile environmental legislation, but shoved it aside until the last minute instead.
Democrats may warn us that Republicans will turn back the tide on all the supposed “progress” they’ve made, but look at the details, and you’ll see that there really hasn’t been that much progress under the Democrats. In many cases, Democrats in Congress are already bringing us the frightening agenda of environmental neglect that they warn us the Republicans will impose if they regain majority control.