As we've been witnessing, the democratic process is broken in America and movement conservatism has corrupted our ability to govern. In any party there usually are different factions within that party. Some might be more moderate than others, but when a party wins a mandate in a general election they are usually allowed to govern.
That doesn't apply when Republicans are out of power. Yes, we have terrible politicians manning the Democratic Congress, but it's almost unprecedented when one party just votes no, so that even if you have a strong majority in the Senate, one Senator from the other side has the power to stop all legislation. So even if you're in a huge minority, the filibuster can sink legislation or hold up personal appointments every time.
The media are feckless and ineffective. They love the fight game and are more interested in ratings and clashing personalities than they are in actually reporting the news. So they allow a minority party that was soundly trounced in two elections (2006,2008) to maintain their defiance to the American people. And then they blame it on the party differences within the Democratic Party.
And we can't forget the conservative media that drives their narratives to millions of people a day. Fox News and AM talk radio do have a huge influence on the American people and the politicians in Congress, and they should never be ignored.
Our old pal Steve Benen writes a nice lengthy post on this, and his solutions are ideas that the blogosphere has been touting the entire time to break the logjam.
* Start using the phrase "up-or-down vote" all the time.
* Take advantage of every opportunity. Using reconciliation as much as humanly possible should be a no-brainer. The "nuclear option" should be put on the table, too. Endorse Harkin/Shaheen. Scour the rules and procedural minutiae and figure out if Republicans who want to filibuster can't be forced to literally do so. Search for GOP statesmen -- Lugar? -- and ask if they're really willing to destroy the workings of the United States Senate.
* Go on the offensive. Organize rallies in Maine and explain that Olympia Snowe, by endorsing her party's obstructionism, is single-handedly responsible for the fact that Congress can't function, and it's within her power to put things right and let key bills get up-or-down votes.
* Give voters who elected Democrats something to be excited about. Voters will be impressed with accomplishments, so maybe it'd be wise to give them some. Dems can start by passing the damn health care reform package.
It's not too late. Finish health care. Pass a jobs bill. Go after irresponsible banks. Bring some safeguards to Wall Street. Fix student loans. Pass an energy bill. Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." This not a fanciful wish-list; it's all entirely feasible.
Digby posts an idea from one of here commenters:
A reader writes in to Talking Points Memo with this observation:
Why do you think Congressional Democrats have had such a hard time dealing with Republican obstructionism? It's been apparent for months that Republicans are unwilling to compromise on legislative initiatives, unless by compromise you mean that they will allow Democrats to agree with their proposals. In such an environment, it is pointless for Democratic lawmakers to ask themselves whether there is a way they can craft legislation so that some Republicans will be willing to vote for their proposal - there is simply no provision that Democrats can add or remove from a bill that will make Republicans want to vote for a Democratic proposal. And yet we keep seeing efforts - like the Baucus jobs bill - in which leading Democrats tinker with or even gut their own proposals in a fruitless effort to get Republicans to sign on to the legislation.
If Democrats in Congress behaved like the Republicans have after being trounced for the last four years, the media and the Village would be screaming bloody murder at them. The Washington Post led by David Broder would be lashing out every day: 'How dare they be such obstructionists," Broder would say, and all of his colleagues would follow suit.
And like clockwork, the Dems would be afraid of a backlash from voters and would once again pass legislation like Medicare Part D, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and the bankruptcy bill, to name a few.
They must pass health care to get the ball rolling on their side. You want a commission? I got one. They should put together a Procedure Commission to investigate every nook and cranny that is available to them to pass legislation.