You don't get bipartisanship by asking politely. Obama made the mistake of asking Republicans over for tea in his first year in office and thought he could charm them into voting his way. You don't swing votes by asking politely, you swing them by implicit political threats. You do it with political force.
So, in financial reform Obama shouldn't ask Republicans to vote with him, he should dare them not to. He should say:
"You want to vote with the bankers. Go ahead. I dare you. Every day I'm going to talk about how these bankers took hard-earned taxpayer money and turned it into record bonuses for themselves. I'm going to show pictures of their yachts and mansions. And then I'm going to say you want to protect them so you can hang out with them on their private jets and play with them in their vacation hideaways. I'm going to take a cut out of you and put it on a picture of their yacht. I'm going to name names. I'm going to make you famous. You still want to vote with the bankers. Make my fucking day."
That's how you get the opposition to vote with you. Who cares if their feelings are hurt, you'll get their votes if, and only if, they think their seat is on the line. Politics is almost always a matter of naked self-interest. Make it politically perilous for them to vote against you and all of a sudden they'll be in a lot more bipartisan mood.
This is one of the few things George Bush did well. Why do you think all those Democrats voted for the Iraq War, because they liked Bush? Because he asked them nicely? No, he made them believe that they will lose their seats if they didn't vote with him. And all of a sudden, he had a solid bipartisan vote in favor his policy.
The new conventional wisdom in DC is that the Democrats are devastated after the Massachusetts loss. And of course there are many who are suggesting that they listen to the Republicans from now on. What the hell are they talking about? The Democrats still have 59 senators! Let me do some quick math for you - that's 18 more senators than the Republicans have. That's a crushing majority, if you're willing to use it.
Bush and Cheney got everything passed with far less senators. Do you think Cheney would have been belly-aching that he only had 59 senators and that he couldn't do anything until he had 60 or more?
If Barack Obama finally does what he was elected to do -- stand up for the people and take on the establishment, there isn't anything he couldn't do with 59 senators. Hit the bankers, hit them hard and dare the Republicans to get in the way. The absolute worst case scenario is that you lose the vote but the Republicans make the dramatic mistake of filibustering to protect the bankers' bonuses. If you thought people were pissed before, wait till you see what happens to the party that makes that mistake.
It's not time to sulk; it's time to saddle up and ride. So far Obama has practiced unilateral disarmament. As the Republicans have pounded on him over and over again, he did not lay out his case or the case against the Republicans for fear of alienating them. What if they got mad and didn't vote with him? I hope to God he's passed that now with the wake up call in Massachusetts.
It's time to stand up for what you believe and challenge the craven positions of your opposition. It's time to show the American people that the Republicans are not on their side. They're with the bankers and the lobbyists. And we're coming for them. We're coming to their house. They can either get out of our way or get crushed. Come on, let's play ball. Let's fuck these guys up.
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