Budowsky: To Dems: Run against the do-nothing GOP, Senate

Senate and House leaders watch an honor guard carry casket of the late Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 after Reid lied in state in the Capitol Rotunda.
Greg Nash

Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections should remember how in 1948 Harry Truman won the greatest upset in presidential campaign history, by running against “the do-nothing Congress.”

Democrats have real challenges in the midterms, but the deluge of negative commentary towards President Biden goes much too far writing him and Democrats off — as everyone wrote off Truman in 1948.

Consider the RealClearPolitics summaries of polling. As of yesterday morning, since mid-December Democrats have led Republicans in a majority of generic polls. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) languished around 24 percent favorable, markedly lower than Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) languished around 24 percent, markedly lower than Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).  And above all the approval of Congress as a whole is a similarly pathetic 22-23 percent!

President Biden can claim legitimate credit for the dramatic economic recovery act, the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill and increasing jobs with higher wages. Biden and House Democrats can claim credit for a long list of actions proposed by the president and passed by the House.  The problem is the Senate.

Democrats can run against the do-nothing Senate which is dominated by Republicans who have taken a purely negative obstruction position, sought to destroy any semblance of majority rule by demanding extraordinary majorities on virtually every piece of legislation, which is unprecedented in the history of the Senate — and received support from two Democrats who give them the power to obstruct and destroy proposals that would help hundreds of millions of Americans.

Any Democrat running against any Republican can condemn this destruction of the Senate by Senate Republicans and their two Democratic collaborators.

In my experience working for senior senators and House Democratic leaders, I have never seen anything like the performance last week of freshman Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who shamefully fired a radioactive torpedo against her Democratic president, 48 Democratic senators, and some 220 House Democrats minutes before the president was to address all Democratic senators.

What an expression of contempt towards the president and her Democratic colleagues! Sinema became a most valuable player for Donald Trump, Republican leaders and all who attack voting rights in their plans to defeat Democrats who were ALL hurt by her performance!  No wonder donations soared for a group promoting a primary against Sinema in 2024.

The same is true of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Democrats offered him great concessions to get his support, after which he joined Sinema in backing filibusters to defeat bills they claim to support that defend democracy, honest elections and voting rights.

If Manchin and Sinema do not dramatically change, they will guarantee that Republicans employ obstructive tactics to destroy every bill offered by the president and Democrats, on every issue, for the rest of this midterm year.

If their tactic helps Republicans win control in the midterms, they could virtually destroy the Biden presidency, which would be unable to pass any laws, on any issue, for the rest of his term, unless they get permission from Republicans trying to elect Trump in 2024 and preparing to turn a Republican Congress into a partisan investigation roadshow against Democrats and democracy.

A Harry Truman-style Democratic attack against a do-nothing Senate should harshly criticize Republican leaders who are already highly unpopular, in a Congress that is already highly unpopular, without sparing any Democrat who gives them the power to hurt the president and all Democrats in the House and Senate.

Every attack against a do-nothing Senate should champion actions that directly help voters, lower prescription drug prices, support child care and education, reduce inflation, back voting rights and the rights of women and other great causes Americans favor.

This would rally and mobilize Democrats everywhere to elect more Democrats to the Senate and House, and appeal to moderate and independent voters — especially women — who want government that helps them, not hyper-partisan obstruction they deplore. 

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the House of Representatives.

Tags campaign Charles Schumer do nothing senate Donald Trump GOP Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kevin McCarthy Kyrsten Sinema midterms Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Senate Democrats

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