To listen to the media, you would think that the word "Compromise" was on the ballot and the voters approved it in a nationwide referendum. Bullshit. What happened on Tuesday, November 7, 2006 was a tidal wave of popular mandate for strong progressive change in our policies ranging from Iraq to education to the economy to ethics. The DC establishment of both the Republican and the Democratic side can't stop talking about bipartisanship and compromising to "get things done." It's all good to work with the Republicans - let's not forget that they, too, represent Americans - and we will need to make some compromises in order to move our country forward, but let me send a clear message to the media and the Democratic establishment: what We The People voted for on Tuesday was not a mandate for Democrats to compromise with Republicans on our principles. Democrats in Washington, DC, already do that very well, being in the minority.
It's time for a change. Voters voted for a sea change, not chump change. By far, all exit polls indicate that there were two overwhelming issues that decided Tuesday's vote: Iraq, and ethics reform in Washington.
The American people are fed up with a civil war in Iraq, in the middle of which our best and brightest are stuck. 61% of Americans want a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq (Newsweek poll, 10/26-27), and 63% believe America is losing ground in Iraq (Newsweek poll, 11/9-10). [Source]. Republicans LOST the election by insisting that we must stay in Iraq indefinitely. Americans have told you people in Washington over and over again through polls that a timetable needs to be set for withdrawal. And now, they have voted for it. We expect one to be of the first order in the new Democratic Congress. And we are not going to accept any deal that compromises our security by prolonging the conflict in Iraq.
Secondly, I don't care how many lobbying farms are now hiring Democrats. We need ethics and lobbying reform of the highest order. Every meeting of a Congressperson with a lobbyist should be on the record, so we can know that Congressman X can't meet with advocates for school-children because he has to meet with oil company lobbyists. Ban gifts and dinners from lobbyists to Congresspeople AND Administration officials. If these members of Congress really can't pay for their own lunch, we'll look at paying for their lunches only. And once a vote opens on a bill or an amendment, no keeping it open for longer than scheduled.
While these things will take a little time, we need to pass a minimum wage increase, roll back tax breaks for oil companies and other large corporations, increase college aid and start aggressive oversight on the areas of war profiteering and energy policy. The time to compromise on these fundamental values has come to an end.
Another thing: if Democrats in the Senate are even thinking about letting some court nominee (Supreme Court or lower courts) like Alito through, they should remember what compromising with Republicans felt like from the minority standpoint, because if they let anyone like that through, a minority is where they will end back up.
So yeah, have an open procedure. Let everyone have their say. Don't throw out any ideas simply because it comes from the other side. But don't dare forget the people who put you there, and don't betray your principles. Work to build consensus, but don't run from a fight. Defend your principles, and make principled policy. The American people did NOT vote for compromise. We voted for dramatic, progressive change.
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