The Senate today blocked the start of debate on the National Defense Authorization Act, with Republicans objecting to a provision that would repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The vote was 56 to 43, with 60 votes needed to break the filibuster. Two Democratic senators, Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln, both from Arkansas, voted with Republicans to block the bill. — reported by Talking Points Memo.
This is of course intensely annoying to supporters of Obama, but I highlight this to make two points. First, a lot of people criticised Obama for not moving on DADT quickly enough. He had good reason to: the Democrats didn’t have enough votes to pass it. And even now they don’t.
Secondly, and more importantly, it once again highlights why sometimes discipline is useful and important in politics. I bet there are more Democrat senators who did not like the idea of passing DADT. And I bet there were Republicans who wanted to. But the Republicans are extremely disciplined, which means they can block legislation and restrict Obama’s agenda. This also helps them electorally.
Democrats on the other hand are badly disciplined, and because some don’t buy Obama’s progressive agenda, continually shoot the party in the foot by stopping their own legislation.
This is worth noting when people use the voting records on TheyworkForYou.com to make a point about how terrible Labour cabinet ministers or MPs were. Their voting record doesn’t tell you anything other than what the leadership wanted. You might argue of course that these means Labour (or Tory MPs) are spineless. Perhaps. But there clear political advantages too in such a strategy. My only regret is that Barack Obama can’t threaten / whip his Democrat senators harder and get them to stand in line.
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