I was cleaning out a file cabinet the other day, (nobody said my life was exciting), when I came across a paper given to me by one of the wisest men I ever met, the late Dr. Bill Palich. At the time that paper represented the anger and disappointment we shared about a Senatorial vote. Today it represents a lesson. Let’s explore.
The paper in question was given to me during a Democratic meeting Dr. Palich and I both attended in 2013. It showed the Senators who has voted against the Manchin-Toomey Amendment which called for reasonable (and in my mind still inadequate gun regulations). The amendment failed by a 54-46 vote to get the necessary 60 votes to overcome cloture. Among the 46 were five Democrats: Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Harry Reid of Nevada and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
The vote took place on April 17, 2013 in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Shooting where 20 babies were murdered. Had the five gone to the other side passage would have been one vote short and it is very possible at least one Republican would have had the courage to change their vote.
With the benefit of hindsight I’d like to examine those five votes. First I’d like to give an “asterisk” to Reid’s vote. He was the Democratic Senate Leader at the time and often a leader will vote contrary to their convictions to leave open the possibility of using an obscure Senate rule to reopen the matter. Reid gets a deserved pass.
The other four were looking at preserving their political skin, pure and simple. Heitkamp will talk about voting the interests of her state but I simply do not believe her. Let’s see how well that worked out for them.
Begich and Pryor were up for reelection in 2014 and both lost. Reid retired after the 2016 election and President Obama named Baucus to the ambassadorship to China in 2014. He served in that role until Donald Trump fired him along with every other ambassador in 2017. The only one left in the Senate is Heitkamp who is up this November and is considered the most endangered Senate Democrat this cycle. With control of the Senate on the line I’m certainly not pulling against Heitkamp however don’t expect an endorsement in this column. The bottom line is that three of the four could not get reelected despite selling out and there is a very good chance it will be four for four by the morning of November 7th.
The moral of the story put in street talk is “Do the right thing.” Politically there appears to be no benefit from selling out. Personally I’m glad I’m a pack rat and I’m even happier to have had wise friends.
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