I am fearful that beyond the roadblock that they present to progressive legislation, the current House majority threatens to make our country ungovernable, with consequences that may be well be disastrous over the next few years. Hence I have drafted the following plea to House Democratic Leader Pelosi to seek to create a coalition of House Democrats and less-extreme Republicans to form a governing majority in the new Congress. I am sending this to Pelosi at Americanvoices@mail.house.gov. I do not know how many of you will agree with me, as I am sure that many of you will reject any approach to the current crisis that depends on the cooperation of more conservative Democrats and traditional mainstream Republicans, but I would encourage anyone who shares my views to share them with her also, using my language or your own.
I do not imagine that such a coalition could serve as a foundation for robust progressive change, but it might at least allow the country to be effectively governed over the next few years in a fashion that is not driven by an extremist conservative minority.
I also welcome comments from anyone who wishes to suggest either additional venues for putting forth this message, or alternative strategies for dealing with the reality of a House the includes a majority of members who were elected as Republicans.
Dear Leader Pelosi,
I write to you as a concerned American and Democrat to encourage you and your fellow Democratic leaders in the House to “think outside the box” in the days ahead to try to save our country from what threatens to be a catastrophic failure of governance at the hands of the extremists who dominate today’s House Republican majority. It seems clear that neither sensible policy change nor even a continuation of routine governance will be possible over the next two years if the House is run by a Republican caucus that is dominated by members who respect neither the will of the majority of voters or democratic norms. The current crisis in the House over a fiscal cliff package that was even endorsed by a majority of Senate Republicans makes clear that the current House GOP caucus cannot function as a governing partner.
At the same time, due to GOP gerrymandering and Democratic undervoting, we are faced with a Republican majority in the incoming Congress for at least the next two years and perhaps more.
It seems to me that in this situation, if we are to avoid two years or more of crises that may lead to calamitous long-term consequences for America and the world, what is needed is for a coalition of House Democrats with the remaining mainstream conservatives in the House Republican caucus to take control of the House in the new Congress and allow essential legislation to come to the floor without the acquiescence of GOP extremists.
Realistically, it seems unlikely that even the most pragmatic of today’s Republicans would support you as Speaker at the head of such a coalition. But perhaps one of your more conservative Democratic colleagues, or some relative moderate on the GOP side, could lead the House over the next two years in a fashion that—while unlikely to be fully satisfactory to those of us whose preferences are in the Democratic mainstream—would at least allow the country to move forward in a functional fashion. This should not preclude a Democratic campaign to regain a House majority and true governing authority in 2014 or 2016. At the same time, it is likely that some political and/or personal assurances would have to be given to any GOP Representatives who join this proposed coalition, as it will be difficult for them to win GOP primary races in 2014.
Perhaps there are other less “radical” ways out of our current predicament. But in any case, I hope that you and your colleagues will accept that the current crisis may require you to make choices that break with tradition and go outside of the “comfort zone” of many, in order to meet the challenge to our country from a House majority that even centrist observers now acknowledge is dominated by “insurgent extremists.”