This election has been about Big Things. Our country needs healthcare reform, an energy policy, middle-class tax cuts, responsible fiscal regulation and an exit from a costly and ill-focused war. How are we going to get there?
The House of Representatives has a good working majority to support President Barack Obama. Most analysts are focusing on the number 60 as the number of Democratic seats that would be needed in the Senate to determine whether President Obama will be able to pass his agenda through Congress.
In short, can we assure Americans that the change they have voted for will actually come to pass?
Let's look back at some key issues that were the subject of a Senate filibuster in the last Congress and how many votes are needed to break the logjam: five votes to pass a rule requiring the government to negotiate prescription drug prices for Medicare, lowering costs for seniors; four votes to pass Stem Cell Research; three votes for The Lily Ledbetter Act guaranteeing equal pay for equal work; two votes to pass an investment in infrastructure to help local communities fix and protect roads and bridges and just one more vote to pass an alternative energy bill providing incentives to invest in alternative fuel sources and technologies.
Five more seats in the Senate and President Obama can get A LOT done. Eight more and we will have smooth sailing for the change we need.
Contrast that with recent history. When George W. Bush was elected president in 2000, he faced a Congress that was the most evenly divided in recent history. A Senate that was 50-50 and a House that had a 10-vote margin. It was, in short, a recipe for gridlock. And thank goodness, because most of President Bush's agenda was divisive and principally benefited the wealthy - stripping environmental laws, passing even more tax cuts for corporations, privatizing Social Security, etc.
Thankfully, gridlock will be a thing of the past. Well, at least for two years. That is the time period of the Obama honeymoon. I, for one, am hopeful about the Big Things.