Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement


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And the process has only accelerated since the election of Donald Trump.


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The activist left has remade the Democratic Party in several ways. First, it has pushed Democrats, who in the Bill Clinton and Obama eras sought the approval and support of corporate and Wall Street titans, to treat monied interests as adversaries. In , Obama raised more cash from the financial, insurance, and real-estate industries than his Republican opponent, John McCain, did.

Once in office, he named former investment bankers to serve as three of his first four chiefs of staff.

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This year, 45 of the 73 most competitive challengers did. Most of the Democratic senators likely to seek the presidency in have pledged to do the same.

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They are embracing Big Government policies dismissed as utopian or irresponsible only a year or two ago. By January , New York Governor Andrew Cuomo—long known as an ally of Wall Street and a critic of excessive government spending—was onstage with Sanders announcing that New York would institute its own free-college plan.

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One reason for this shift is the growing influence that activists now enjoy within the party. Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have responded to the February massacre at their school not just by rallying for gun control. They have fanned out across the country trying to defeat politicians backed by the National Rifle Association.

In ways that would have been hard to imagine in the Clinton and Obama eras, Democratic politicians are themselves crossing back and forth between participation in the political system and agitation outside it. Ocasio-Cortez, a veteran of the Sanders campaign, decided to run for office after participating in protests against an oil pipeline at the Standing Rock reservation in the Dakotas, then left the campaign trail the weekend before the primary election to protest family separation at the Mexican border.

This year she won the Democratic primary to represent parts of Detroit and its suburbs in Congress. Democrats are even protesting inside Congress itself.

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What will all this mean when Democrats take power? If that happens, and Democrats pursue their newly ambitious agenda, an unstoppable force will confront an immovable object. Aiding those members will be the filibuster, which will force Democrats to find 60 Senate votes to pass significant legislation. And if Democrats do somehow enact laws, the most conservative Supreme Court since the s may strike them down. Because the left is more mobilized than it was during the Clinton and Obama years, such pressure is easier to imagine under the next Democratic president.

Still, Republicans and Joe Manchin confirmed him.

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This is where things get dangerous. Facing militant GOP opposition, Obama abided by a series of restraints—based upon custom, not law—that circumscribed his agenda. The next Democratic president is less likely to do so. But in the years since, as Democrats have moved left, attitudes inside the party have changed.

Earlier this year, left-leaning politicians and journalists slammed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for pledging to reinstitute paygo which House Republican leaders have disregarded if Democrats retook the House. Why should we? The deficit is only one of the constraints Democrats might breach. Another is the filibuster. That will leave future Democrats with a choice. They can dramatically expand the use of reconciliation, which might require replacing the Senate parliamentarian.

Or they can make it harder—or even impossible—to filibuster legislation. These latter steps would not violate the law. But they would enrage Republicans and fuel the sense that, post-Trump, anything goes. Advocates for overturning the filibuster and packing the Supreme Court argue that both institutions flout the popular will.


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Republican senators disproportionately hail from less populous states. In the short term, this strategy could work. But another lesson of the s and the s is that threatening entrenched norms and disrupting public order—although effective for a while—can eventually provoke a fierce backlash. It grew. That summer, clashes between strikers and the police became so violent in some cities that the governors of Pennsylvania and Ohio imposed martial law.

In , conservatives rode an economic downturn and a backlash against labor radicalism and the court-packing scheme to huge midterm victories—effectively ending the era of leftist change. In , Republicans—stressing law and order—won 47 seats in the House. The GOP is already pursuing a similar strategy today. Congress and the Nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement.

Waller, D. Citation Export Print Permalink Translate. Abstract Abstract. Waller, a former legislative director for Congressman Edward J. Markey who sponsored the Nuclear Freeze Resolution in the House, presents an inside account of the legislative battle on the resolution. The Nuclear Freeze, which began as a grass-roots movement in Massachusetts soon captured the imagination and attention of millions of Americans.

The resolution, introduced into both houses of Congress in early , called on the US and the USSR to negotiate a mutual and verifiable halt to the nuclear arms race. This bold measure sparked intense debate between members of Congress and the Administration, and Waller vividly recounts the organizing, lobblying, and maneuvering that eventually brought the Nuclear Freeze Resolution before Congress for a vote.

The author documents what was perhaps the most important debate on arms control ever held in the US House of Representatives. This book by Douglas C. Waller, a former legislative director for Congressman Edward J.

Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement

Markey who sponsored the Nuclear Freeze Resolution in the House, presents an inside account of the legislative battle on the resolution. The Nuclear Freeze, which began as a grass-roots movement in Massachusetts soon captured the imagination and attention of millions of Americans.

The resolution, introduced into both houses of Congress in early , called on the US and the USSR to negotiate a mutual and verifiable halt to the nuclear arms race. This bold measure sparked intense debate between members of Congress and the Administration, and Waller vividly recounts the organizing, lobblying, and maneuvering that eventually brought the Nuclear Freeze Resolution before Congress for a vote. The author documents what was perhaps the most important debate on arms control ever held in the US House of Representatives.

Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement
Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement
Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement
Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement
Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement
Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement
Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement
Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement
Congress and the nuclear freeze: an inside look at the politics of a mass movement

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