October 7, 2009

Are Democrats as Incapable of Governing as it Appears?

Inauguration of President Barack ObamaImage by sneakerdog via Flickr

When they were the minority party during the Bush years, the Democratic Party revealed themselves to be wholly ineffective at mounting even mild opposition. They submitted to the draconian Patriot Act, went along with Iraq, and squandered countless opportunities to halt the damage Bush and Cheney did to the U.S. Bush was the 2 year-old loose in the toy store, and Democrats in Congress were the parent who decided it was best just to look the other way. Now that the Democrats control the Presidency and both houses of Congress, one would think that they might be able to deliver on the message of change on which President Obama campaigned so effectively. Sadly, this has not been the case.

When it comes to being an effective opposition party, the Democrats have never seemed particularly effective. And yet, I have generally assumed that they could govern once in power. In contrast, the Republicans have been (and in my opinion, continue to be) an extremely effective opposition party. Those who count them out now are underestimating their prowess. Of course, they have repeatedly proven that they are thoroughly incapable of actually governing when in power. Given their flawed political ideology, this is hardly surprising.

No, the surprise has been that the Democrats, once in power, do not seem to be much more capable. Despite their majority in Congress and their control of the Presidency, the Democrats have become little more than a bad joke. They have the superior political ideology to be sure, but their delivery has been disastrous so far. Obama seems completely incapable of setting aside his fantasy of bipartisanship. As a result, he is unlikely to accomplish any of the progressive reforms he promised those of us who voted for him. The party allows itself to be held hostage by Republicans and a handful of conservative "Democrats," further ensuring that nothing meaningful will be accomplished.

Unless Democrats in Congress and especially President Obama can grow a spine and push through some progressive legislation, they are guaranteeing that potential Democratic voters will stay away from the polls in 2010 and 2012. They still have time, but so far I can see only one reason that I would even think about bothering to vote and that is to make it more difficult for the Republicans to regain control of Congress. Then again, it is getting harder and harder to tell the difference.

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