This is not a political blog, but I am inspired by the “lame duck” congress. Regardless of your political persuasion, it is clear that the last few weeks of the session rivaled the fervor and impact of any congress since LBJ’s administration.
The START treaty, while continuing the paradigm of the Cold War is an amazing step towards the reduction of insanity-producing nuclear weapons. It still positions disarmament as dangerous game of chicken and potentially rewards clever disingenuity on behalf of both the US and Russia, but it is a powerful step none the less.
The bipartisan compromise compromise on the Bush era tax cuts is an amazing act of political pragmatism. This bill makes everybody equally unhappy (which generally means that the negotiation has been spirited and the outcome well considered). It has pulled the President to the center (where I suspect his political heart lies, despite his rhetorical progressivity) and alienated the far left of the party. But the compromise has driven ahead the opportunity to grow the economy and maintained important funding for things like unemployment payment extension. While it doesn’t accomplish all of the left’s goals, it has pulled the right closer. As an act of bipartisan political wrangling, this is an important legislative event.
Further, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is an incredibly important (and long overdue) act of courage by the administration. And while I think this debate ended John McCain’s position as a major player in political discourse, I applaud the courageous Republicans who voted to end one point of government-mandated homophobia. I understand that this is a complicated (perhaps more so than I understand) issue in a time of war, but this was a silly compromise 17 years ago, and the military has a long tradition of gracefully adapting to socially forced mandates like racial integration. This will be implemented smoothly and without any major issues. Perhaps the rest of our society will springboard to a place of greater understanding and tolerance from the military’s example. (Maybe reform on the federal and state level around same-sex marriage will be in our future.)
I am profoundly disappointed in the failure of the Dream Act. US citizenship should be viewed as an opportunity accelerant to be shared, not as a zero sum game that rewards the geography of birth. This is an act that will get passed…someday.
What impresses me most is that while this congress has been wildly productive (healthcare and financial reform) the last six weeks have progressed with the fervor of bipartisan zealotry. The assignation of the “lame duck” label was transformative and those embroiled in a dramatic political sea change produced amazing results. Thank you for your focus and service.