A liberal friend of mine sent out an email this past week urging all of the recipients to urge their Representative and Senator to push for the passage of the Dream Act when Congress reconvenes next week.
I wrote back that such a result would be a disaster for the cause of real immigration reform, no matter what the short-term benefits he imagined flowing from the act. Anyone who wants a comprehensive solution to the problem of illegal immigration, one that begins with the completion of the fence and moves on to regularization of the millions of illegal aliens in the country, cannot hope for a jam down of the Dream Act through a discredited Congress.
Similarly, no proponent of a policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military should be cheering a quick vote on Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell in the next few weeks. Nor should any champion of campaign finance reform urge a vote on the Disclose Act.
In short, no serious proponent of representative government ought to be urging that the sweeping message of November 2 be ignored just so their particular special interest can garner a last-minute “win” in a lame duck Congress.
That lame duck session could and should pass a short term spending measure to allow for the operation of the government through, say, the end of February.
And it would be consistent with the mandate the GOP received at the polls to extend the Bush tax cuts until such time as Congress affirmatively votes to raise them.
But nothing should issue from this lame duck meeting of a discredited and repudiated Congress that in effect nullifies the vote on November 2.
“I won,” President Obama bluntly told GOP leaders at a White House gathering shortly after his inauguration in 2009. Though he might well have been much better served by some humility as well as some of the bipartisanship he campaigned on, the president was simply stating that elections have consequences. He received the powers of his office from the people, and he used them.
But this failed Congress ought not to be legislating as though nothing happened, or as though the people affirmed the recklessness of the past two years. The vote was a national knock-out of the left’s beliefs and program, a complete and utter denunciation of the tax-and-spend policies of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and to ignore that verdict is to strike at the very core of the country’s social compact: Voters are sovereign.
The temptation is great to try and use the last few hours of power to reward political friends and punish political opponents, but the cost is so high that even the most dogmatic liberal ought to refuse the temptation.
There are 23 Democratic senate seats on the ballot in November 2012. Any of those 23 who vote for any of the left’s last-minute agenda, or even for cloture on the bills, are telling their voters that those voters’ don’t matter to those senators. Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, for example, just witnessed a wave of red wash across the Buckeye State. If Brown participates in an anti-democratic jam down in December 0f 2010, that will be all that Ohio’s voters need to know between now and November, 2012 --that Sherrod Brown has contempt for them and their votes.
What Brown and many other Senate Democrats need right now is a does of well-deserved humility as to what they know and don’t know about the country. They completely misjudged the public’s appetite for spending and Obamacare. If they continue to refuse to listen, their countdown to retirement will have certainly begun.
The votes of these 23 over the next three weeks will define many races for 2012. No senator hoping to remain seated in January 2013 will ignore the results of November, 2010.