[Ed. – Or something. Polarization, anyone?]
Ten years ago, in 2004, we had a 51-49 Republican Senate. But the fact that Republican Bill Frist ran the joint wasn’t the worst of it. Because look at this motley crew on our side of the aisle: Max Baucus, Evan Bayh, John Breaux, Tom Daschle, Fritz Hollings, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, Zell Miller, and Mark Pryor.
Ugh. What a pile of suck. And those were just the worst offenders. Of that crowd, Baucus recently announced his retirement, leaving only Landrieu and Pryor—and Pryor will lose his re-election battle. Maybe Landrieu will, too. Daschle was in charge of the Democratic caucus, horrifyingly enough.
On the progressive end we had Barbara Boxer, Daniel Inouye, Daniel Akaka, Tom Harkin, Ted Kennedy, Russ Feingold and Barbara Mikulski. Maybe a handful more. Not too bad, but a minority within the party.
Today, we still have Boxer and Mikulski, but they’ve been reinforced by Tammy Baldwin, Sherrod Brown, Al Franken, Martin Heinrich, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley, Chris Murphy, Bernie Sanders, Brian Schatz, Elizabeth Warren, and Sheldon Whitehouse. Furthermore, our middle-of-the-road senators are people like Jeanne Shaheen, not Bob Graham. And our conservative faction is a shell of its former self, with only Joe Manchin left at the level of our 2004 gallery of rogues. The caucus has shifted significantly to the left. …
Ten years ago, Howard Dean was branded “unelectable” because he supported civil unions. We’ve evolved dramatically as a society. We’re nowhere close to where we want to be. But every once in a while, it’s worth taking a deep breath and appreciating just how far we’ve come. We really are making genuine progress.