With the inauguration of Al Franken, there are now 60 U.S. senators who are members of the Democratic party. 60 also happens to be the number of votes required to end debate on the Senate floor (stopping filibusters and allowing votes on bills).
Much of the media and Republicans are now adopting the story line that Democrats will run roughshod over the minority. You can bet that in the 2010 elections, Republicans will argue that you should vote Republican in order to restore some “balance” in the Congress. Oh Look! They already did that:
This is silly.
The fact that there are now 60 (D) votes in the Senate will not change much from when there were 59. First there’s the fact that two US Senators are rarely able to make it for a vote. Senators Byrd (WV) and Kennedy (MA) both are suffering from serious health issues and have had great difficulty making it to work. In addition, there are several Democratic Senators who are less than reliable votes. These include recent convert Arlen Specter (PA) as well as Senators Ben Nelson (NE) and Mary Landrieu (LA).
These three Senators now have more power than ever. They know that without their cooperation, the Democrats are vulnerable to Republican obstructionism. While there are some Republicans who have been willing to cooperate with Democrats (Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins), without Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd Democrats still need at least one of the three previously mentioned conservatives.
So will we see an epoch of Democratic tyranny? Don’t count on it.
Update: It’s worth noting that Franken’s first vote was against the administration.
Update II: The Political Animal comments on the above ad:
In a web video released this week, the NRSC shows Franken, who will be sworn into the Senate today with his hand on a Wellstone family Bible, telling the Wellstone-as-track-coach story not once, not twice but at least six times. Each time, you can see Franken mouthing the words of Wellstone “‘You can take this guy! You can take him. You can take this guy!” Like the ad during the campaign, viewers can’t actually hear Franken speaking so all it shows is a man pointing crazily