As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

...And You Shall Be Known By Your Trail of Votes

Jim Webb and Chuck Hagel have led the political debate in this country over the past week, sounding very principled and very American in their contention that we must end this shameful policy of escalation in Iraq. But when both of them had a chance to vote on it, yesterday in the Foreign Relations Committee, on Sen. Dodd's bill requiring Congressional authorization for escalation, both of them voted No.

I'm sure they had their own reasons to do so, perhaps because the troops are already in place, perhaps because they're opposed in principle but don't want to stop the troops from going without a change in strategy. But the point is that as nice as words are, as important as rhetoric is to frame the debate, votes MATTER. And it's something to remember going into 2008. There's one Senator who's actually willing to use the Congressional duties as written in the Constitution to stop this war, and that's Senator Feingold. Then there are people like Chuck Hagel, who talk a great game but whose vote doesn't seem to match the rhetoric. Although he voted for the nonbinding resolution yesterday, he voted against anything with actual import. And, he voted for the war in 2002.

Yesterday in the Senate, Republicans not only blocked a clean minimum wage bill from passage, but they tried to attach an amendment ELIMINATING the federal minimum wage altogether, leaving the power entirely to the states, and they got 28 votes for it.

(Colorado Sen. Wayne) Allard hid the repeal behind the “state flexibility” mask, claiming states should be allowed to set their own rates, without a federal floor, because of different costs of living and differing economies. The amendment would nullify the federal minimum wage standard in the 45 states that have their own minimum wage law, and allow the five states that don’t—Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee—to opt-out of any federal minimum wage increase by passing a minimum wage law providing at least $5.15 an hour.

Those voting to completely repeal the minimum wage include 2008 contenders Sam Brownback and John "Straight Talk Express" McCain, and people up for re-election like John Cornyn, Thad Cochran, Lindsay Graham and John Sununu. The commercials should be cut any day now. These votes MATTER in politics. They need to be recalled when these people come back asking for YOUR vote.

It's not just about vision and rhetoric and framing. It's about where you stand at the end of the day. And there's no better barometer of that than your voting record.