Social Advocacy & Politics: “The Senate is the Enemy?"

Alan Rosenblatt Director of Digital Strategy, turner4D

Posted on February 4th 2014

Social Advocacy & Politics: “The Senate is the Enemy?"


"The Republicans aren't the enemy. They're the opposition. The Senate is the enemy."

State of the Union view from behind ObamaSo goes the legendary quote… so legendary that many who know it do not know it comes from a TV show.  In 2001, when he said it, The West Wing’s Leo McGarry concluded, “Those days are over.” Is he saying that the Senate is the opponent and the Republicans have become the enemy? Can two tweets in anticipation of the State of the Union (#SOTU for those of you who speak hashtag) shed any light on this?

Prior to the President’s arrival in the House chambers, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) joked about his sitting next to fellow freshman senator Democrat Tammy Baldwin (WI). In the wake of the Arizona State Republican Party censuring Senator John McCain (R-AZ) for being too liberal, Flake suggested his sitting with “the enemy” might escalate the situation.

Flake and Baldwin sitting together is a continuation of a deliberate practice begun in 2011 by Senators Mark Udall (D-NM) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to symbolize the reality that Congress makes national policy, while representing local constituents. Both realities must be considered when legislating.

Meanwhile, in the House, Republican Representative Randy Weber (TX) tweeted an entirely different sentiment.

Let’s leave aside his inability to spell and focus on his mastery of the dictionary. I am not sure Rep. Weber actually knows the definition of “socialistic” or “dictator.” He certainly isn’t using them correctly in this tweet.

Is Weber being the enemy? Are Senators Flake, Baldwin, (Udall and Murkowski) simply being opponents seeking  different solutions to the same problems?

It is not that simple. The Senate seems to have better embraced the notion of working across the aisle than the House (better, as in not nearly as toxic). So the Senate has seemingly embraced the notion that the other party is the opposition. But Weber’s comment suggests the reason the House now considers the Senate the enemy is because House Republicans see the Democrats as the enemy. And any hint that Senate Republicans are willing to compromise with Senate Democrats makes them also the enemy.

My enemy’s friend is my Senator enemy.

How much can we extrapolate from these tweets? Certainly, we know that Senate Republicans have taken opposition to the edge of enemy (filibusters, backroom orders to obstruct, etc.). But they have passed a compromise budget, a compromise immigration bill and a compromise farm bill.

The House Republicans, on the other hand, have voted in vain to repeal the Affordable Care Act nearly 50 times. Stories of Republican House Members chastising their colleagues for having a laugh with a Democrat in the hallway abound. They clearly see all Democrats and the Senate as the enemy.

Take a look at what Members of Congress are tweeting and draw your own conclusions. Post your thought here in the comment section.

Follow these lists for all the tweets from Congress:

House Republicans

House Democrats

Senate Republicans

Senate Democrats


Alan Rosenblatt

Director of Digital Strategy, turner4D

Alan Rosenblatt, Ph.D. is a social media and online advocacy strategist, professor & thought leader. He is Director of Digital Strategy at turner 4D (formerly Turner Strategies), the co-founder and host of the Internet Advocacy Roundtable; Ombudsmen and co-founder at Take Action News and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins, American, (Georgetown and Gonzaga Universities), where he teaches courses on internet politics. He was Associate Director for Online Advocacy at the Center for American Progress/CAP Action Fund from 2007-2013, where he created and directed the Center’s social media program. Alan taught the world’s first internet politics course ever at George Mason University in 1995. He founded the Internet Advocacy Roundtable in 2005; blogs at,, and occasionally/previously at,,; serves on’s board of directors and Social Media Today’s Advisory Board; In 2008, he was a fellow at George Washington University’s Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet; and is a co-founder of  Alan has a Ph.D. in Political Science from American University, an M.A. in Political Science from Boston College and a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Tufts University. Find him on Twitter and across social media at @DrDigiPol.

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Posted on February 4th 2014 at 7:46AM
I don't agree with it, but still it's a good article.