At the time of this writing, it's obviously clear that the Dems have effectively orchestrated a bloodbath in the House of Representatives. We can only hope that somebody has a video camera on hand in January when John Boner... err, sorry, I mean Boehner, does the perp walk from the House Majority Leader's office down to his new digs in the Minority Leader's office. The Senate is still up in the air with a 49-49 split and two races heading into recounts to determine who has the majority there. Currently the Dem in each race (Jon Tester in Montana and Jim Webb in Virginia) is being shown with a slight lead in razor thin margin counts. But even if they somehow manage to hang on through the challenges, recounting and inevitable dirty tricks to come, seizing control of the Senate, we would have been denied the perp walk for Bill Frist, as he was retiring from Congress after this term anyway. Should that come to pass, we'll have "Give 'em Hell" Harry Reid in the top slot, and he's always struck me as a pretty sensible fellow.
So... fine. Pop open the champagne and throw yourselves a bit of a party for now. You've certainly earned it. But once the euphoria wears off and the reality of having to go back to work sets in, I have a little message for you from the fine folks at Middle Earth Journal.
TO: Madam Speaker Pelosi and (possibly) Senator Reid
FROM: Jazz at M.E.J.
Congratulations on your electoral victories. We hope you enjoyed the boxes of assorted chocolates and the bottle of Champagne we sent. Now, down to business. Don't get too comfortable in your new chairs. It may have suited an expedient electoral strategy to simply say, "The Republicans are bad. Vote for us." but that time is over and now the spotlight will be on you. And I can assure you without hesitation or reservation that we'll be watching you like hawks.
It is clear that I, apparently along with a vast wave of people in this country, had become so disgusted by the actions (and lack thereof in some cases) of the Republican majority in league with George Bush, that we came out to vote for you in droves. Do not make the mistake of taking that as some sort of signal that we're in love with you or think that you walk on water. You've disappointed us plenty of times in the past, and we have no reason to think that you won't do so again. One of the chief complaints voters aired in the exit polls, aside from the disaster in Iraq, was corruption and K-street financial wrangling by the Republicans. Do we believe for one minute that you are pristine and above such malfeasance? No. We do not. We understand that, for the last ten years, you probably weren't getting in trouble for taking money from shady lobbyists and other reprobates only because nobody wanted to give you any money. You were out of power and bribing you would be a waste of funds. Now that you're back in control of the legislative agenda, those brimming coffers of PAC cash will be coming knocking at your door. We will most certainly be watching how you handle yourselves.
With the greater power of the majority comes greater responsibility. One of the chief complaints against the Republican run Congress was that they were a "do nothing" body. You don't have that large of a majority, and you most certainly don't have the 2/3 required to overturn a Presidential veto. This means that you're going to have to reach across the aisle to achieve meaningful legislative advances. I know that the temptation will be great to use your new power to grind your boots into the necks of your former oppressors. (And ok... I'll grant you at a small bit of boot grinding in the first few months could be excused.) But beyond that, you have work to do for us and you're going to need the support of some of the Republicans to accomplish anything meaningful. Rather than emulating your former antagonists, you must step up to the plate, be the bigger person, and do what they failed to do for these past years. Do your jobs.
First of all, pull your collective heads out of your collective asses and sit down to repeal that awful bankruptcy bill. Or at least modify to the point where it becomes fair those most at risk in our country.
Clean up the budget. The Republicans have been spending money like drunken sailors and sunk us into a sea of red ink which, left untended, will most assuredly drown us. One of the chief complaints raised about Democrats by the Right wing is that you're bad with money. "Tax and spend" Democrats they call you. Prove them wrong right out of the gate. Get that budget balanced and start bringing the deficit down. If I operated my personal budget the way you guys run our national one, I'd be rotting in debtors' prison right now. I'm not smart enough to tell you exactly how you are to manage this daunting task, but hey.. you asked for this job. Now go do it. Fix the public purse. That's your job, remember? Clinton managed it. Maybe you should go ask him how he did it and take notes.
Get rid of tax cuts for billionaires and reset the system so those who can afford the least are taxed the least. Trickle-down economics is a fantasy. This isn't rocket science, partners. Do it.
Get us the hell out of Iraq. Now. If there was one message the electorate sent to you guys in this sweeping election, it's that we're sick of the mess that Bush has gotten us into over there. Several reasonable sounding plans have been put forth by some of your members, the most promising of which all seem to involve bringing all of the National Guard and reserves home immediately, and redeploying our regular troops to points outside of Iraq where they can still be available for rapid action without eating IEDs for breakfast every day. I don't know how you're going to pressure Bush and Cheney into this, but that's not my problem. It's yours. Again... you wanted this job. Now do it.
Oversight, oversight, oversight. We've had none, and you have been promising us that you would deliver on this. If you don't we're going to skin you alive in '08. I'm not saying you need to shut down the government. I'm not saying you need to start impeachment hearings on the first day of the next session. What I am saying is that there need to be investigations. We, the public, have the right to know what went on in the pre-war intelligence debacle. We have the right to know what happened in Cheney's secret energy policy meetings. We have a right to open, transparent government in all areas which don't endanger national security. Get to work.
Fix the eminent domain problem. States are already rushing to pass laws intended to curb the damage done by the SCOTUS in that area. Take it to a national level. If you can't find a legislative remedy to the problem which will pass constitutional muster, then get to work drafting an amendment to the constitution to re-write that clause. Apparently we have at least five currently seated justices who can't read very well, so you're going to need to word it so that no confusion is possible between phrases like "public use" and "public purpose." You want to impress us? Make that happen.
Stop wasting our time on meaningless crap like defining marriage and do something substantial to help the economy and our employment situation. Your former masters have gamed the system to the point where all of our major employers are shipping our best jobs overseas and leaving formerly successful professionals slinging coffee at the Cinna Bon down at the mall. Bring those jobs home. Make it unprofitable for large corporations to do that and they'll stop.
We'll have some more tasks for you in the future, but that should be enough to get you started for now. Remember... we'll be watching. And if you repay us for the electoral victory we just handed you by screwing us over the same way the Republicans did, rest assured that we'll vote your sorry asses out of office in two years just like we did to them yesterday.
You have been warned. Now -again - congratulations on your new fortunes. With that said... get to work.
Update: The comments section of Balloon Juice's election results post has some more good advice for the Democrats. (Or "Our new insect overlords" as Tim F. put it. Got to love that.)