The Myth of the Magical 60 Democratic Majority In The Senate

Yesterday, I got a pathetic, pleading email from Barbara Boxer about the need to get a 60-seat Democratic majority in the Senate in 2008, so that finally, the Democrats in the Senate will be able to get a backbone and stand up to the Republicans… eight years too late.

Senator Boxer gives the tired old argument that the reason Democrats in Congress have been acting like Republicans is that they don’t have a filibuster-proof majority. The suggestion is that, if only the Democrats could get more than 60 Senate seats, then the Democratic Senators would actually start representing the progressive values of the Democratic rank and file.

A vote that took place yesterday in the Senate shows how tragically bogus Boxer’s argument really is. The vote was on an attempt by Democratic Senator Russ Feingold to amend the FISA Amendments Act to prohibit electronic surveillance against American citizens through an underhanded technique called reverse targeting.

Here’s how reverse targeting works: American government spies want to start spying on an American citizen wiretapping their phones, reading their mail, etc., without even asking for a search warrant to do it. That’s blatantly against the Constitution, but never mind that. The Bush White House claims the right to spy on any foreigner, and on anybody who has ever spoken to a foreign suspect, and on anybody who has every spoken to anybody who has ever spoken to a foreign suspect, and on and on… and so, functionally, the Bush White House claims the right to spy against any American citizen.

So, with reverse targeting, the American government intends from the start to use the massive electronic spying powers it’s gotten through the Protect America Act, to be made permanent through the innocuous-sounding FISA Amendments Act, against an American citizen. But, in order to justify that blatantly unconstitutional spying, it puts on the facade of saying that it’s just spying against some foreigner who knows some American, who knows another American, who knows the person that the government has been intending to spy against from the start. Reverse targeting is the act of intentionally following the social network of an American target of spying backwards to some foreigner it claims the right to spy against.

Reverse targeting makes every American a potential target of electronic surveillance by the government – done without any search warrant to prove probable cause to suspect the American of connection to any crime. That’s the kind of government abuse that the Democratic Party is supposed to stand against.

The good news is that Barbara Boxer and Russ Feingold and several other good Democrats and independent Bernard Sanders did stand against reverse targeting – through the Feingold amendment, which would have made reverse targeting clearly illegal. Every Republican who was present in the Senate voted against the Feingold amendment, and so it was defeated.

However, the Feingold amendment was not defeated because of those Republicans. It was defeated because seven Democratic senators voted to kill it. Those Democratic senators actually voted in favor of reverse targeting of Americans by US government spies! These Democratic traitors were

Dianne Feinstein of California
Daniel Inouye of Hawaii
Tim Johnson of South Dakota
Mary Landrieu of Louisiana
Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas
Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia
Ken Salazar of Colorado

These Democrats’ betrayal of their constituents’ constitutional rights was made even worse by Democratic senators who were pathetically absent. The following Democratic senators didn’t even bother to show up for the vote:

Byron Dorgan of North Dakota
Ben Nelson of Nebraska
Barack Obama of Illinois
Hillary Clinton of New York

Yes, that’s Obama and Clinton, falling down on the job. I’m a progressive, and I hate to put down the Democratic candidates for President, but do you know what I hate even more than that? I hate it when Democratic leaders like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fail to stand up to the Republicans and defend our American freedoms.

That’s a total of eleven Democrats who voted against the simple progressive idea that the Bill of Rights means something, and the government shouldn’t have the ability to conduct searches and seizures against us without a search warrant. So, let’s do the math. In order to overcome the damage done by these Republican-leaning or Republican-enabling Democratic senators, we’d need to have yet another eleven genuine progressive Democratic senators.

So, at a minimum, in order to have a Democratic majority in the Senate that actually did the work that Democratic voters want it to do, we would need to have 71 Democrats in the Senate.

That’s pathetic. Senator Boxer, I respect the work that you do in the Senate, but please don’t ask me to give money to the Democratic cause in the Senate when the Democratic majority in the Senate is so thoroughly infiltrated by Democratic politicians who are either too apathetic to show up to vote or little more than Republicans in donkey’s clothing.


on “The Myth of the Magical 60 Democratic Majority In The Senate
4 Comments on “The Myth of the Magical 60 Democratic Majority In The Senate
  1. This morning’s announcement by Benedict Nelson can only be viewed with disgust and contempt for this consumate political fraud! He has sold out the people of Nebraska with his unconstitutional vote for cloture on the health bill. He has violated his oath to support and defend the Constitution! He has delivered 1/6 of the economy into the hands of the Obama minions for a few pennies! He has just become Nebraska’s Judas! God may forgive him for this treasonous action, but I will not and will do everything in my meager power to see that he is unseated in 2012! He has succumbed to the pleas of the Obama administration, choosing to serve the Democratic Party rather then the citizens who elected him. He has chosen the master he wishes to serve…the Democratic Party, forsaking the wishes of both the majority of Nebraskans opposed to the health bill as well as the majority of Americans. He has made his proverbial bed, now let him sleep in it!

  2. H.L., I like the Benedict Nelson flourish, but come now – how on earth does a vote to allow a final vote on a health reform care bill go against the Constitution?

    The Constitution clearly states that Congress has the authority to pass laws to serve the general welfare. Do you really think that access to medicine is not in the general welfare? Like the bill or don’t like it, but it is obviously constitutional.

  3. it violates my rights as a free person, iam not a slave to obama’s democratic mandates. I should have the right to decide if I need hc coverage. This bill is going to restrict access to medical care by rationing it to the seniors of nthis country. this is not serving the general welfare of all people. We should not have to buy said insurance if we feel we don’t need it. How can people make premium payments when they are out of work. where is that money coming from? This is not reform but a scam by already corrupt congressmen and senators who screwed up the housing problem in this country thru fannie and freddie mac giving loans to people who could not afford them.

  4. Gerry, that may be your opinion, but it is not in accordance with the system of rights created by the Constitution. You don’t have a constitutional right to decide if you need health care coverage. It’s just not in there.

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