Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Franken Wins in Minnesota

It took eight months of tedious, meticulous counting and seemingly endless court challenges, but the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled, 5–0, in favor of Democrat Al Franken today in his Senate race against Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.

To his credit, Coleman appears to have accepted the decision gracefully. He conceded defeat, saying he would "abide by the results."

So, with Franken's victory and Arlen Specter's defection from the Republican Party earlier this year, Barack Obama and the Democrats appear to have a filibuster–proof majority in the Senate for the next 18 months. Whether they will be able to maintain that kind of majority for the rest of Obama's four–year term in office will depend upon what happens between now and November 2010.

It seems appropriate, although not for the reasons he wrote about, that David Brooks' column in the New York Times today focused on the Democrats' experience with their efforts to reform health care during the Clinton presidency and how that experience shaped the Democrats of today.

Referring to the passage last week of the climate change bill in the House, Brooks says Obama "will do what it takes to pass a bill," and the Democrats in Congress developed "a ruthlessly pragmatic victory machine."

Brooks calls it "Vince Lombardi politics" — which, apparently, is a reference to Lombardi's philosophy that "winning is the only thing," but I hope the Democrats learned more than that from their decade of exile from congressional power.

The Democrats have learned how to win. Now, with Franken, the Democrats have enough votes to do what they want to do, so what is important, if they want this to be more than a temporary interruption, is to show America and the world why they must win.

Winning is the only real objective in sports. But in politics, winning is not the only thing. Sure, you have to win elections before you can do anything. But, even in a marathon of an election like the Minnesota Senate race, the election is only the beginning.

The Republicans had the discipline to win. But they overlooked the why part more and more, until winning alone became the only reason for their existence.

It reminds me of an interview Ted Kennedy gave after he had announced that he was challenging President Carter for the 1980 Democratic nomination. CBS' Roger Mudd asked Kennedy, "Why do you want to be president?" Kennedy gave a rambling response that never really answered the question.

Did that prevent Kennedy from winning the nomination? I don't know.

What I do know is that Obama and the Democrats must be able to explain to the voters, in simple and honest language, why health care reform and climate change and additional stimulus packages — and anything else the Democrats seek to achieve — are necessary.

Winning can't be about special interests and big contributors.

It has to be about the people.

1 comment:

otin said...

Coleman should have just given up a long time ago! Sorry I have not been on the chat, I am hardly ever on my site, I have soooo many blogs to read! My name appears at the top whenever I am online, I should just sign out of the chat unless I am on my site!