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January 31, 2006

Perspective on the Filibuster Vote

Digby says he's stunned we did as well as we did and remarks that "something very interesting happened that I haven't seen in more than a decade."  He reminds us that Scalia received 98 votes and that was when the Democrats had the majority.  Thomas was confirmed with a Democratic majority.  The difference yesterday: us, the grassroots.  Here he is: 

The last time we had a serious outpouring from the grassroots was the Iraq War resolution. My Senator DiFi commented at thetime that she had never seen anything like the depth of passion coming from her constituents. But she voted for the war anyway. So did Bayh, Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Kerry and Reid. The entire leadership of the party. Every one of them went the other way this time. . . .  The tide is shifting. There is something to be gained by doing the right thing.

He then takes it a step further, which is why we read Digby.  He says that people will say that these Senators 'pandered' to the blogosphere as if that were a bad thing.  He quotes from a book by Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Shapiro, entitled Politicians Don't Pander; Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness:

Why has the derogatory term "pander" been pinned on politicians who respond to public opinion? The answer is revealing: the term is deliberately deployed by politicians, pundits, and other elites to belittle government responsiveness to public opinion and reflects a long-standing fear, uneasiness, and hostility among elites toward popular consent and influence over the affairs of government.

And Digby says, "Bingo. It isn't actually pandering. It's responsiveness." He goes on:

I believe that there is finally a recognition that the Party has hit the wall. We have moved as far to the right as we can go and we have been as accomodating as we can be without thoroughly compromising our fundamental principles. Most of us are not "far left" if that means extreme policy positions. Indeed, many of us would have been seen as middle of the road not all that long ago. We are partisans and that's a different thing all together. The leadership is recognising this.

I know it hurts to lose this one. I won't say that I'm not disappointed. But it was a very long shot from the outset and we managed to make some noise and get ourselves heard. The idea that it is somehow a sign of weakness because we only got 25 members of the Senate, including the entire leadership, to vote to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee is funny to me. Two years ago I would have thought somebody was on crack if they even suggested it was possible.

Jane Hamscher at firedoglake picks up the same theme in a post yesterday:

The Judiciary Committee hearings on Alito were a real eye opener for me and I think for many others as well. Not so much because the members of the committee were in such disarray -- that's been going on for a long time -- but because as we sat here together and watched them collectively I got a sense in reading the comments that some seismic shift was happening, that people finally realized that enough was enough. Something had to be done, someone had to start agitating for change and it wasn't going to come from within the Democratic establishment.

The Judiciary Committee hearings on Alito were a real eye opener for me and I think for many others as well. Not so much because the members of the committee were in such disarray -- that's been going on for a long time -- but because as we sat here together and watched them collectively I got a sense in reading the comments that some seismic shift was happening, that people finally realized that enough was enough. Something had to be done, someone had to start agitating for change and it wasn't going to come from within the Democratic establishment.

I want to take a moment to thank each and every person who took the time to participate in the comments section on this and other blogs to voice your frustration and your willingness to do something. It really took me by surprise, I have to say, to hear people so engaged and ready to mobilize. This amazing move to fight this battle came from the ground up. DC pundits are feeling threatened, and many have tried to dismiss this as John Kerry's cynical attempts to manipulate the grass roots, but that's a mistake. It was a groundswell that swept me and other bloggers up and called out for direction, and somehow John Kerry heard that and he stepped into a leadership position and he gave it to us. He gave our frustrations a focus, he offered us a chance to stand up and fight regardless of the likelihood of success, and that was all we asked. He validated our efforts and he let people know that their voices were being heard in spite of the timidity gripping many of his peers.

I frankly think the passion of the netroots community surprised him. For those who want to criticize him for not acting earlier or better, I do not think he had any reason to believe that this kind of support was extant or that we would have his back. He put his neck on the line over at Kos and the Huffington Post, not knowing what was going to come back. The outpouring of gratitude that came back to him for his efforts was extremely moving.

Next time he'll know. And so will we.

She goes on:

We shook things up. People like Joe Biden and Barak Obama were extremely irked about being put on the spot. Diane Feinstein changed her vote, and it's entirely possible others did likewise and we just didn't hear it. We forced those who voted for cloture into publicly opposing us, and now we know where things stand. And everyone across the political spectrum knows we're here now. They are starting to get a glimmer of the kind of muscle we can put behind something we believe it. It was a great moment, a grand and noble fight and I am so proud of each and every one of you for taking part in it.

The next big battle on the horizon are the NSA wiretap hearings coming up next week. On February 6 the Judiciary Committee will begin questioning Alberto Gonzales. I hope everyone will stop by Glenn Greenwald's blog and take time to look over his post on the points he believes will be the most important to cover during this process and to contribute your ideas. Glenn has a lot of people's ears right now after his work on the topic made headlines so it's a great way to prepare for and contribute to something that's going to be very critical for all of us.

I don't think anyone can look at the Alito battle on the part of the netroots community and say it was anything other than a huge success. We proved we could show up and we knew how to fight for what we believe in, no matter the odds, just because it's the right thing to do. Your courage, your conviction and your fearlessness are inspirational.

If anyone's been looking for the heart of the Democratic party, it's right here.

Back to Digby who has a powerful passage from Bobby Kennedy that fits our times today:

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. And I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the globe.

For the fortunate among us, there is the temptation to follow the easy and familiar paths of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who enjoy the privilege of education. But that is not the road history has marked out for us. Like it or not, we live in times of danger and uncertainty. But they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history. All of us will ultimately be judged and as the years pass we will surely judge ourselves, on the effort we have contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which our ideals and goals have shaped that effort.

The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American Society.

Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live."

Posted by Lynn Allen on January 31, 2006 at 08:39 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink

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Comments

Isn't Digby a woman?

Posted by: Barney | Jan 31, 2006 9:24:36 AM

Cantwell has proven, yet again, that she absolutely will not "pander" to her constituents, or even acknowledge their existence. Here is the person who will listen and fight for us.
http://votemark.org
Maria"bride of lieberman"Cantwell must go.

Posted by: makeitstop | Jan 31, 2006 9:38:30 AM

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