Tuesday, January 19, 2010

All politics are perishable, not just those in Washington

Ezra today,

Some months ago, Nancy Pelosi told me that she calls Washington "the city of the perishable." Let things sit for very long and they have a tendency to spoil. That, she said, is what informs her theory of legislating. "You get the votes," she explained, holding up one fist, "and you take the vote!" And here she smacked her fist into the other palm. "Because you never know what can happen."

Ezra then goes on to discuss the various unforeseen issues that have hamstring healthcare refrom, and which may ultimately kill reform if the worst happens in Massachusetts.

I agree completely with Speaker Pelosi and it's important to remember that this applies to all politics. You can't bank political capital, or save your momentum for next month or next term. When you win power you have to use it and use it as quickly as possible to enact your agenda. This is the one very obvious lesson that I have learned in my time working in policy and politics.

Look at the situation here in Colorado. In November 2006 Bill Ritter wins in a landslide and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate greatly expand. It looked like high times for Democratic policies in this state. Instead here we are four years later and the only liberal policy that's made any real progress in that time is in the environmental arena. Kudos to the enviros for having their agenda teed up and getting so much passed early in Ritter's term. If only other liberal interests were as prepared to enact their agenda as the enviros were. Factor in the governor's support of their issues and heading into 2010 the environmental community can feel pretty good about what they have accomplished in recent years. The rest of the Democratic interest groups are scrambling to feel out Hickenlooper on their issues and protect the Democratic majority in the Senate.


Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

One of the things that continues to astonish me is how crabbed a sense state legislators have of their collective power. The legislative Democratic party has immense power to act if the simply hang together. Yet, they have very little big picture vision and fritter away many of their bills on trivialities.

This is even more true at the state level in many areas, because they need a mere majority in each house, not a Senate supermajority, and because the Democrats have a more uniform ideological come from in Colorado than they do nationally.

Steve Balboni said...

I almost threw in a quick note about the state Senate and the majority rule unlike in DC.

As much criticism as is levelled at Ritter the Dems in the General Assembly have not demonstrated a nose for leadership either. Immense power and very, very little to show for it.