Hindsight isn’t always 20-20, but often it is. Now that the Democrats have lost their shot at a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate (which is all it ever was, really, given the two independents and the pack of Blue Dogs), they must be flagellating themselves over the obvious. Before tackling health care reform they ought to have changed the procedural rule that makes the 60 votes necessary. Had they accomplished that, nearly all Americans might be insured now, and other future reforms would be much easier to legislate. Now that opportunity may be irretrievable.  “May be,” because sunny President Obama still hasn’t given up his efforts to bring both parties together. And Congress may yet find some way to turn much or some of the reform measures into law.  Health care aside, the Democrats’ failure to put first things first (to put the procedural over the substantial) brings up the importance of foresight now, instead of hindsight later. Foresight is never easy, and especially today with so many global and domestic crises roiling the political waters all at once. But foresight, learning from mistakes, perseverance and building some unity where polarity threatens to divide the nation are what leadership is all about.  Take the next Congressional election. What can be done now to ensure a fair and accurate race? Both parties ought to make certain that voting machines work in each district; that eligible voters are encouraged to vote, not dissuaded from voting by threats, misinformation or other impediments. The Supreme Court’s recent unleashing of limitless corporate money in electoral campaigns must be curtailed as much as possible. And that’s just a start on a single issue. Citizens ought to demand serious actions and policy proposals, too.  Not just sit back and watch political football: one team runs toward a goal and the other knocks them down. The goals are too serious, in this case. Democracy itself is the game we’re playing. 

Hindsight isn’t always 20-20, but often it is. Now that the Democrats have lost their shot at a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate (which is all it ever was, really, given the two independents and the pack of Blue Dogs), they must be flagellating themselves over the obvious. Before tackling health care reform they ought to have changed the procedural rule that makes the 60 votes necessary. Had they accomplished that, nearly all Americans might be insured now, and other future reforms would be much easier to legislate. As it is, that opportunity may be irretrievable.

“May be,” because sunny President Obama still hasn’t given up his efforts to bring both parties together. And Congress may yet find some way to turn much or some of the reform measures into law.

Health care aside, the Democrats’ failure to put first things first (to put the procedural over the substantial, in this case) brings up the importance of foresight now, instead of hindsight later. Foresight is never easy, and especially today with so many global and domestic crises roiling the political waters all at once. But foresight, learning from mistakes, perseverance and building some unity where polarity threatens to divide the nation are what leadership is all about.

Consider the next Congressional election: What can be done now to ensure a fair and accurate race? Both parties ought to make certain that voting machines work in each district; that eligible voters are encouraged to vote, not dissuaded from voting by threats, misinformation or other impediments. The Supreme Court’s recent unleashing of limitless corporate money in electoral campaigns must be curtailed as much as possible. What about campaign finance reform--is that completely dead? Or can more be done? Such questions and focus are just a start for starters.

Citizens ought to demand serious actions and policy proposals, too. Not just sit back and watch political football: one team runs toward a goal and the other knocks them down. The national and international goals are too serious for such spectator-like behavior. Democracy itself is the game we’re playing.

Karen Sue Smith