Now Democrats Are the 'Party of No'

For both Democrats and Republicans, obstructionism has become the party mantra.

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No longer the Grand Old Party, the GOP over the past two years has come to stand for something much different. As Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said, they became the “Grand Obstructionist Party.” “Perhaps they see progress in a new Congress as defeat for them rather than a win for the American people,” Schumer said. “Whatever the reason, they need to know that by their obstructionism, they’re not hurting Democrats, they’re slighting the American people.”

After all, Democrats were trying to solve America’s problems. They had won historic margins in Congress, a sure sign that the people believed in their progressive agenda. Yet at every turn, that crafty Republican minority, held their ideological ground, and made life difficult for Democrats.

Democrats decried the obstructionism. They shouted that Republicans were standing in the way of the will of the people. They argued that Republicans were unwilling to do anything but say no. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that “one of our two great parties is now an organization committed to an unprecedented level of lockstep opposition to the president: a ‘Party of No.”

[Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the GOP.]

“The Party of No” line became one of the Democrats key messaging strategies. But even after an Election Day drubbing, Democrats continue to pump the message. On December 2nd, just one week ago, the Democratic National Committee sent out a fundraising missive that says,

The President's opponents in Congress are gearing up for a fight. Their plan? Obstruct progress and delay action on our agenda during these last few weeks of this session of Congress.

If we fail to act on these items, those who will pay for that failure are not politicians in Washington - they're our neighbors, our troops, our classmates, and our friends and family.

But some in Congress are proving that they're willing to put politics over people, no matter what the cost.

Then the tax cut agreement happened. President Obama and Republican leaders hammered out a compromise in which the Bush-era tax cuts would be extended for everyone in return for passing an unpaid for extension of unemployment benefits and a smattering of other tax breaks that were built into the stimulus.

The deal apparently led Democrats to forget how much they previously decried partisan obstruction. Upon hearing of the compromise, Senator Bernie Sanders called it “an absolute disaster” and said, “I will do whatever I can to see that 60 votes are not acquired to pass legislation.” Sanders wasn’t alone. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis), who vowed to vote against the proposal, mockingly said, “Isn’t it wonderful to be in the city of misplaced priorities and ass backwards judgments.” Rep. Peter Welch circulated a letter attempting to gather support for voting against the tax compromise saying, “The President gave up without a fight, but you don’t have to.”

[Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the Democrats.]

What happened to all of that talk of the American people? What happened to “if we fail to act” our neighbors, friends, and family will “pay for our failure”? Oh that’s right, it’s all talk. Democrats, just as much as Republicans, want the “satisfaction of having a purist position,” as President Obama said in defending his tax deal. He chided Democrats for threatening to play politics so “we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are” while Americans are “not able to pay their bill because their unemployment insurance ran out.”

This doesn’t mean that parties should not fight for what they, and especially their constituents, believe in. Don’t read this as a cry for our parties to cede their principles. Understand that it is simply a sincere hope that Washington will stop pointing the obstructionist finger and live up to their word of having the best interests of Americans at heart.

  • Check out a roundup of political cartoons on Democrats.
  • Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the GOP.
  • See an Opinion slide show of the GOP's rising stars.

  • Updated on 12/9/10