by Captain Future
Wed Nov 8th, 2006 at 10:30:41 PM EST
As of Wednesday evening in the U.S., Associated Press and TV networks have projected victories for Democrats in the Senate races in Montana and Virginia, which would give the Democrats control of the Senate as well as the House.
There are apparently some ballots still to be counted in Montana, and Republican Senator Allen of Virginia is waiting for the canvas results (checking tallies where votes were counted locally)--if Democrat Webb's margin doesn't appreciably diminish, Allen is expected to concede, possibly on Thursday.
Beyond partisan politics and beyond these shores, what this means is that the United States will slowly but surely rejoin the rest of the world.
In the House, Democrats are likely to have enough of a majority to pass legislation, when the new Congress convenes in January. It's more complicated in the Senate, where controversial matters often require more than a majority--60 votes--while the Democrats will have 49, with two Independents that may or may not vote with them on any given matter.
But in both houses, the Democrats will control the committee system. They will chair the committees and subcommittees. They have the power to hold hearings, conduct investigations, issue subpoenas to compel testimony under oath.
This is part of setting the agenda that is the chief power of the majority.
It means that obstructionists will no longer stifle consideration of alternative energy proposals, or threaten scientists who are not climate crisis deniers.
It means that the run-up to the Iraq war and the conduct of the war will be thoroughly investigated--that's already being organized.
It means that through legislation and hearings, support will once again grow louder for America to enter into international agreements on nuclear proliferation, global heating, human rights and international justice.
It will mean investigation and oversight concerning policies and practices on torture that relate to the Geneva Convention.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is already gone. (He resigned, or was fired.)Newly reelected Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has promised this nomination will not be rubberstamped. She said she has hard questions to ask.
Appropriate perhaps for this instant messaging age,the Democrats have a First 100 Hours plan: to raise the minimum wage, enact all the 9-11 Commission reforms, force drug companies to negotiate prices for Medicare drug benefits, and so on.
But the long-range effects of the U.S. rejoining the international community will be felt over months and years. (Although there are elections in 2 years that could reverse this majority, historically it has not often happened so quickly.)
So to paraphrase President Kennedy, it will not all happen in the first one hundred days, nor in the first one thousand days. But let us begin.