1. America continues to tolerate high levels of unemployment. We could expand the public sector with WPA-style job creation. We could make truly huge infrastructure investments for a green economy and create private sector jobs in the process. (While we're at it, we could make the minimum wage a living wage.) We could pick our favorite combination of ideas. The point is, we are not facing a mystery of how to create jobs. We know how to create jobs. We just decide not to do it. We decide that it's basically OK that 15 million Americans need a job and another 10 million people need more hours in the job they have. The country lacks the political will to solve the problem. Or at least the political will to solve the problem is diluted and misdirected through our politics and our government. But we should not forget that the big, green FULL EMPLOYMENT button is right in front of us if we ever decide to push it. Until we do, there will always be a Jim Bunning standing between millions of Americans and economic security.
2. The Senate is specifically designed to grind democratic momentum to a halt. It's specifically designed to throw a spotlight on Jim Bunnings. Current filibuster rules mean anyone elected to the Senate--in an election system that is already tilted heavily in favor of moneyed interests--can singlehandedly block the work of both houses of Congress. Only a supermajority--an arbitrarily selected number of 60 Senators--can stop him. And good luck finding 60 Senators who will do anything that might inconvenience the money kings. As if democratic rule and political equality weren't hard enough already in a society of such extreme economic inequality, it turns out majority rule isn't even good enough. You need supermajority rule. Oh wait, did we say supermajority? No, we meant you need a super-duper!-majority to do anything important.
It's encouraging that a growing number of Democrats in the Senate are calling for reform of filibuster rules. I don't know if they'll be able to do it soon. But progressives should continue calling for filibuster reform even when Republicans eventually take back the Senate. It's not simply an issue of how powerful the party in power is going to be. It's an issue of whether the Legislative Branch of government will be able to do anything important. In the long-run, a Senate subject to majority rule is a good thing for progressives and democracy, even if it will sometimes be a reactionary Republican Senate. (This question is definitely worthy of a lot more attention.)
3. The Senate overrepresents rural white people, which generally means conservative Republicans. We're looking at you Jim Bunning. Thanks to the political realities of 1787--big states vs. small states, slave states vs. free states--every state today, regardless of population, still gets equal power in the Senate. This means that a very small state like Wyoming, which is very rural, very white, and very conservative, has the same sway in the Senate as giant California, which is more urban, more diverse, and more liberal. Here's another way to put it, based on the populations of those two states: Wyomingites have 74 times the representation in the US Senate that Californians have. So until the makeup of the Senate is changed, the Senate will always be whiter, more rural, and therefore more conservative than the country. We ought to be able to talk about this without being accused of "reverse racism" against white Americans. The Great Compromise of 1787 and our geography dictate that a rural, white political worldview will have more influence in our government than it should for the foreseeable future. The Jim Bunnings of America are going to be with us for a long, long time.
Update: I just read that Jim Bunning gave up his filibuster. Gosh, thanks Jim Bunning for letting my Uncle Bobby's family continue to receive their health insurance! I'm glad you had a change of heart! And it's really, really cool that the fate of so many people hinges on the wild whims of some guy who has no connection to them whatsoever. What will he decide next month?! Yay! It's exciting!
Update 2: I just heard a knock at your door. It's Jim Bunning. He's turning your electricity off because you don't look very cold.