An Open Letter to Harry Reid
Dear Senator Reid,
I am writing you because we are facing the strong likelihood of an unprecedented electoral defeat this November if the Congress does not start passing legislation and moving a progressive agenda. As it stands, Democratic base voters are completely dispirited and are growing more cynical by the moment. In California, we could lose a Senate seat, several house seats, and the Governor’s race.
The problem is the ability of the Republicans to block all legislation through a filibuster. People think the Democrats are spineless or worse, duplicitous, telling base constituencies like organized labor and the environmental community they are with them while reassuring the business community that nothing will ever happen.
Senator Reid, you have the sole power, without any Senate Rule change, to require every filibuster to be debated on the floor. Why won’t you exercise that power? It would turn the entire political situation on its head, showing the Republicans to be obstructionists and turning public opinion against them as it did in the 1960s when the pro-segregation faction in the US Senate tried to filibuster civil rights legislation. There is only so many times that a minority party can filibuster if every time they must continue speaking until a cloture vote passes or fails.
The Democrats have lost one seat and still hold a majority that has only been held for only 15 out of the last 230 years. Conveniently, however, you and the rest of the Democratic leadership have essentially thrown up your hands and said “Oh well, there’s nothing we can do any more because we don’t have sixty votes.” This is both unprincipled and disingenuous.
Senator Reid, you are in a tough reelection in Nevada. Why should the union members I work for show up to help you if you cannot manage to move the Democratic agenda one inch when you have historic majorities that will never likely to be this large for another generation or more?
Senator Reid, it’s time for you to stand up and do the right thing. Ironically, showing some backbone might actually help you get reelected and save the Democratic Party from the likelihood of an electoral collapse like that which occurred in 1994.
I was in your state in November 2008—as were thousands of other volunteers from California—helping turn your state blue.
Give me a good reason why we should return.
Barry Broad is the Managing Partner in the law firm of Broad&Gusman, LLP, specializing in government relations and administrative law. His clients include major labor organizations such as the Teamsters, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, United Food and Commercial Workers, UNITE-HERE, International Association of Machinists, and the Amalgamated Transit Union.