In terms of legislative successes, the current session of Congress is "at least on a par with the 89th Congress" of 1965-66, said Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
But, he added, Republicans have done all they could to discredit Congress, and Democrats have failed to sell their agenda. Moreover, it will take years to fully feel the effects of the health-care law and financial regulation.
"A world dominated by bickering and epithet-throwing and bomb-tossing in Washington obscures accomplishments," Ornstein said.
That Congress passed LBJ's Medicare and Medicaid, the cornerstones of the too-short Great Society programs, and the Civil Rights Act that Rand Paul wants to repeal. It also allowed the escalation of the war in Vietnam, and probably singel-handedly brought down LBJ's presidency. It also lost 48 seats in the House and four in the Senate. A similar result this time around would mean both houses of Congress would turn Republican.
We can't let that happen.
Here's what the 111th Congress has accomplished.
In addition to healthcare reform, Wall Street accountability and the various bailout programs, and despite Republican obstructionism, we have:
Here's what we need to do, what everyone who believes in the future of this country needs to do. It doesn't matter if you live in a red state or the bluest of blue, do this. If we can steal a few seats back from the withdrawing tide, it will have been worth it.
Making college loans more affordable.
The Cash for Clunkers program to help the auto industry.
New consumer protections for credit-card users.
Making it easier for women to challenge pay discrimination.
Increasing federal regulation of tobacco products.
Cracking down on waste in Pentagon weapons acquisition.
Making attacks based on sexual orientation a federal hate crime.
Giving businesses tax incentives to hire unemployed workers.
Tax credits for first-time homeowners.
We each of us needs to vote. We need to persuade five friends to vote. We need to read them this blogpost, send them a link, and convince them that voting for Democrats is the only thing that will save this country. And we need to make sure they vote for the Democrat.
It's not going to be hard to do that. The spectre of the Carl Paladinos and the Christine O'Donnells of the nation should be enough to tip the scales. Here's the follow up. Here's the real deal.
We need to get in the face of those Democrats who win, and do it endlessly, daily if necessary, and remind them that we saved their bacon, we saved their jobs, and if they don't vote a progressive, liberal agenda, we will make sure next time not to vote for them. Don't threaten to run against them (altho I might). Don't threaten to get all rowdy with them. Use the one tool they cannot offset: your vote. Your vote is the most important tool in a progressive agenda.
And if they get afraid of being "liberal", just copy this for them, which I have proudly placed at the top of my blog:
"Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did Conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things...every one! So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, 'Liberal,' as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won't work, Senator, because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor."