Filibuster This!

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Afraid of own shadow

Harry Reid and the Democratic majority in the Senate are wasting our time and theirs. Immigration bills, budget bills, sequestration, military spending, they're all smokescreens and can wait. There's one thing that can't. That's doing away with the existing 60 vote filibuster and go strictly on majority rule once and for all.

Why don't the Dems do that? They're afraid of their own shadows. They're scared what will happen if they actually have power and wield it. And they shouldn't be.

What is the Republican threat? If you do this, then when we regain control, we'll use it to stop you.

That's not a real threat. The abuse of the filibuster is. Look at how many confirmations of presidential appointments have been held up, for as many as five years. Years! Departments running without the chosen director or supervisor. Judicial appointments to the bench stalled causing the guilty to go free or the innocent to be unjustly held because there's no one to hear their case. In either situation, we're being jobbed.

According to an article in the New Republic by Noam Scheiber

Senate Republicans had gone out of their way to block Obama’s highest-profile executive-branch nominees, typically for no other reason than that the president had selected them. The GOP finally backed down after Majority Leader Harry Reid threatened to do away with the filibuster for such appointments, and seven nominees promptly sailed through the Senate.

bottleneck

The threat to do away with the filibuster 60 vote rule scared the Bejesus out of Mitch McConnell and he had to back down. But not for long. He decided to threaten to use that same power when the Republicans take over the White House. Like that's going to happen anytime soon. And even if it did in 2016, by then the Democrats would already have made their mark and helped insure that the bottleneck that the Senate has become would open up. Bills would get passed. Appointments would be filled and the government would work on a much higher performance level. the "Do nothing" tag Congress earned would become so much more, "do something."

The President can always veto a bill. Then it takes a 2/3rd majority vote to override it. That's not going to happen very often. So really, what's Harry afraid of? Making choices and having to live with them? Isn't that his job? And isn't it ours to tell him to do what the framers of the Constitution meant when they reserved filibuster for special occasions -- not appointments and simple bills?

Democrats would be in a stronger position if they went ahead and abolished the filibuster—not just for cabinet appointees and judges, but for legislation, too. That should strike fear in the hearts of Republicans and, at the very least, ensure that Democrats get their way when the GOP obstructs their nominees.

It's time for the Democrats to own up to their own beliefs and stop blaming the Republicans for the obstruction. They have the power to bust through the quagmire.

The basic reason for the Democratic advantage is that they’re likely to win the presidency a lot more often than Republicans over the next 20 to 30 years. The demographics are just relentlessly skewed against the GOP. As my colleague Nate Cohn has documented exhaustively, the growth of minority groups—especially Hispanics—means that the 2016 electorate will be as diverse as the 2012 electorate even if turnout among these groups drops back to its 2004 levels (that is, before the nation’s first black major-party nominee). And the trend lines only get worse for the GOP after 2016.

Harry Reid has one more reason to be emboldened and put an end to this craziness:

The upshot is that even if Democrats were to kill the filibuster and then lose control of the Senate—which they no doubt will over the next 20 years, perhaps for long stretches—they would generally retain veto power over policies they don’t like by virtue of their grip on the White House. Conversely, Democrats wouldn't have to worry as much about being unable to block nominees and policies under a Republican president, for the simple reason that there won’t be many Republican presidents around to propose them.

So open the floodgates to legislation.

opening the dam

Forget a government shutdown threat. Forget voter reforms. Put aside NSA spying. Not forever. Just for a few days and make government run smoothly so the other pieces will fall into place. Demolish the existing filibuster rules. Go Nuclear. Give us the government we elected. Then let freedom reign.

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