It’s time the Democratic congressional leadership took a page from Republican Minority Leader Senator Everett Dirksen and learn how to be the loyal opposition.
In the process, the party could become a more powerful legislative force during President Donald Trump’s Presidency.
However, time is getting short and Congressional leaders need to act quickly.
If they don’t act now, in the first months, the party may not get a chance in the future.
Democratic leaders would do well to study the tenure of Senator Dirksen who was successful despite his minority status.
Among the things they would learn is that being the loyal opposition provides great power to shape events and laws. Often it is more powerful than the present effort to delegitimize the present administration.
Often referred to as an accidental president because of the assassination of his predecessor, President Lyndon B. Johnson was hard pressed to get his legislative programs through Congress. Although possessed of a powerful ally in House Speaker Sam Rayburn, he faced opposition as he sought to pass the 1964 Civil Rights bill and later the Great Society welfare programs. To gain passage, President Johnson turned to the Republican minority party leader to get the votes.
Whatever one thinks about those measures and the Gulf of Tonkin Bay Resolution, when some Democratic office holders balked, the American President sought the help of the minority party.
Senator Dirksen led his party to supporting these measures, providing the critical votes for passage of these vital measures.
Little noted today and seldom credited for his efforts, Senator Dirksen nonetheless put the country’s needs ahead of party affiliation.
Today, newly enfranchised as the minority party, Democratic leaders are facing a period totally out of power in Washington. How they act in this role will go a long way to providing them with a path back to power.
Clearly, in Washington D.C. today, it is becoming increasingly clear the Democrats are in need of strong leadership in order to demonstrate they deserve to be returned to power. To do this, they must show their concern to Americans who consider themselves outside of labor unions, teachers, blacks, and other specified groups.
As the last election demonstrated, a significant portion of Americans doubt the party’s commitment to ordinary Americans who do not self-identify with these groups.
In the eight years of President Barack Obama’s presidency, the party focused on so-called self-identified groups rather than the ordinary working man and woman.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the nation’s perception of Obamacare. As its adherents spout reams of sometimes false accusations of (about) its provisions, the House and Senate are moving to gut many of its provisions.
That there will be some reduction if not total elimination of the law’s provisions is not doubted inside Washington D.C. To what extent and how, is (are) the bigger question.
As the final legislative showdown for Obamacare moves into view, Democratic leader Charles Schumer needs to make some far reaching decisions for his party.
To oppose the new bill totally means having no say in what Obamacare provisions are kept.
For many within the Democratic Party this is the preferred option. Many operatives feel this may be the best way to insure a return to power in 2018.
For the New York’s senior senator, this would be an easier route and extend the current divided Washington (federal government) the nation sees today.
On the one hand, should he (Senator Schumer) lead his party into a dialogue on this issue and others, perhaps the process could lead to the breaking of the logjam existing in today’s capitol.
After all, such programs as billion dollar infrastructure spending are found in (on) both parties’ wish list. Getting this program through Congress would enable leaders of both parties to claim credit. Then too, in the spirit of compromise, some Democratic-favored programs like Planned Parenthood might be spared all of the fiscal axe being wielded by President Donald Trump.
As a start, Senator Schumer would be well served reviewing Senator Dirksen’s playbook. He (successfully) led his party for almost 20 years while serving Presidents of both parties.
Despite always being a minority leader, Dirksen was often able to get many in of his party’s pet projects through Congress and off an opposition President’s desk and into law.
Little noted today and almost forgotten, Senator Dirksen represented the spirit of compromise that was the hallmark of 20th Century American politics.
In today’s political world, compromise and consensus seems to be a dirty word. As President Trump and Congressional leaders seek to bring wavering Republicans to vote for Obamacare repeal, this is an opportunity for Senator Schumer and other Democratic leaders to seize the initiative and wring victory from the jaws of November’s defeat.