This being a Liberal hangout, the "enemy" is immediately apparent. I am talking about Rand "If I were President" Paul, Jim De Semi-Minted, Paul "Have I got a budget for you" Ryan, and all others of that ilk.
I am talking about Republicans, specifically the crazy uncle at the family gathering who managed to get elected to Congress type of Republican which, as cruel misfortune and bad karma would have it, appears to be quite a lot of them.
The President would prefer to reach bi-partisan deals, as would Harry Reid. The President, to his eternal credit, has shown signs of a late-dawning understanding, Harry ... Well we'll wait and see, but it is not looking good at the moment.
When the Founders of this nation drew up the blueprint for a grand experiment they almost got it right. Two hundred plus years, and twenty seven amendments later, we are still trying to make it work. It is a slow process, and maybe there is merit in that.
One thing they didn't quite achieve was the design of a system of government that could, you know, govern. They built inertia and weakness into the Federal government quite deliberately. The republic was young. The need envisaged for the government we need now was not a priority. They were still a loose federation of semi-autonomous states, whose power, and place in the world had to be protected. What they did at the time was reasonable, at the time.
"The Mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small". A common refrain, and one that fits Congress rather well. They grind slowly because they were meant to grind slowly. They grind small because of the almost unlimited power they have to affect the lives of us all.
Government is weak for a number of reasons, but initially the protection of state rights was pretty high up there. As a consequence, no one election can radically change the make-up of the Senate, and the House is in perpetual campaign motion, two years not being nearly long enough to develop much in the way of expertise and knowledge for freshman congressmen.
Add to that an Executive Branch that may, or may not be interested in the concerns of ordinary Americans, and a Supreme Court that is able to tell the elected representatives to take a hike, and you get gridlock.
So across the generations, the challenges presented by that situation have been met by working across the aisle. No one side ever gets much of a chance to dominate, except for short periods, so compromise was, and is, the order of the day.
I would be tempted to suggest at this point that, by and large, it has worked after a fashion, but there are some aspects to life in America that suggest that, in a profound manner, it hasn't worked, and doesn't work. Income inequality has spiraled out of all proportion to any other industrial nation. Healthcare and health outcomes are shocking. Poverty, racism, homophobia are endemic, and despite the mightiest military machine on the planet, we still can't stop terrorists flying planes into buildings ... and we can't stop them wanting to.
We were told that we couldn't prosecute a former President and his staff for war crimes, because that process would split the nation and prevent progress. We can't prosecute the banks because they are too big to fail, and their failure would trash the economy causing even more harm. We were told we can't have a public option because crickets, and we are told we can't stop mass murder because freedom.
It seems like we are supposed to accept the inevitability of failure because we do not dare to attempt to succeed.
Here is the consequence of that level of defeatism.
Barack Obama should have been a "shoe in" for re-election. Yet right up to the end-game there were concerns that it was hard to run on his record. What record? We never saw his record during his first term. We never had the chance to determine, as a people, the outcome of his agenda because all we got were the crumbs of his agenda, and the outcome of four years of political terrorism in Congress.
We didn't campaign on his record, we campaigned on his small but significant achievements, and the total clusterfuck that was the Romney Campaign.
Then Barack Obama, just a few short days ago, showed what can be done when his resolve was stiffened, his frustration apparent and his anger not to be assuaged. He drew a line in the sand over the debt ceiling, and the Republicans caved. Capitulated. Total defeat. If that sets the tone for the next four years, then Hillary Clinton, or another well chosen candidate, could be carried on a wave of optimism right up Pennsylvania Avenue, and there isn't a damned thing the GOP can do about it.
Democrats, and Democratic voters in every state could be enthused by an agenda that brings benefits, real benefits to real people, and they will pay attention.
When the other half of this bi-partisan divide seeks only to destroy the government, we need an agenda we can present that DARES them to vote against it ... so let's have one and ignore the weaknesses built into the Federal government. We can overcome some of that by going bold:
We do not want to protect Social Security. We want to expand Social Security. The program is well-funded and can afford to raise the pensions of seniors. It could probably even afford to LOWER the retirement age too. That is our goal and we dare you to stop us.
We do not want to cut Medicare and Medicaid. We want to extend them. We want Medicare for everyone, and we will pay for it with no deficit spending. We will pay for it with excessive corporate profits. We will pay for it with payroll taxes and will extend healthcare to everyone in this country, rich or poor, young or old, black or whit, gay or straight. We will rise to the best of our competitor nations, and free our employers of this worry. It is not their concern, and it should not be.
We will educate our children, and care for those whose parents can not care for them themselves. Our children are our future, and we will not stand idly by while State Legislatures dumb down our kids at the behest of radical religious extremists. There is a line that neither Pastors nor AR15s will cross, and it is 1000 feet from our school doors.
We will recognise, support and legislate employment rights for all. Including pregnant women and expectant fathers. We will limit mendacious activities in the workplace, by employers. We will provide sick leave and vacation time, and secure jobs. Your employees are not your whipping post, they are your entire company. Without them you will fail and you will be made to recognise that. Other countries do. Germany does and their corporations are hardly going out of business. As a tenet of our existence we will declare that corporations exist to serve the people, not the other way around, and just you dare vote against that.
We will declare our unflinching support for the rights of all minorities. That is something the other side should take note of, because they are already worried about what will become of the "white minority". Well they want to take care lest they be treated as badly as they have treated others. Lets get Federal non-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation and every other minority we can think of. That really should be pretty damned bi-partisan.
Working across they aisle, dealing with the enemy, compromise. They are not bad ideas per se. They have worked and they can work, but right now they are not working because only one side is playing nicely.
Worrying about filibuster reform because one day Democrats might be in the minority is not a genuine concern. It is accepting your defeat before the battle has even been started.
Harry ... lay it on the line. We are doing this so get around this table and have a voice, or spit the dummy and we will do it our way.