Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The filibuster

Pardon me if I don't understand why the Democrats are so shy about returning the filibuster to pre-Tea Screamer days -- i.e. returning it to the so-called "talking filibuster" -- the kind just played out by Sen. Rand Paul.

The PTR (Party for The Rich, formerly GOP) has made it clear that it will use the fairly recent "gentlemen's agreement" filibuster to sidetrack any and all legislation (e.g. gun control)  and appointees  (e.g. Caitlin Halligan, Richard Cordray) that offend their wealthy and greedy masters or their rabid "base" (in both meanings of the word). This agreement to allow a filibuster by intent instead of actual talking was a stupid idea in the first place; the fact that the Democrats have let the Republicans further abuse it is ridiculous.

Why are the Democrats continually playing the role of losers? They need to pass important legislation and appoint key nominees to important posts; the PTR is thwarting them. What have they got to lose? Are they actually still worried that the Republicans will get angry at them? Why aren't the Republicans worried about angering the Dems?

Suppose that the "rules" of the Senate are changed so that every filibuster must be a talking filibuster, and the "worst" happens: the PTR wins control of the Senate in two years. First of all, the Dems will have two years to get some things done. Second, they will have the talking filibuster and the chance of picking up a few Republican votes to thwart any real bad stuff the PTR might try to pass. And, finally, they will have the Obama veto for the next 3 1/2 years. I think it is highly unlikely that the PTR, as currently constituted, and with the demographics as they are shaping up, will be able to elect a president in the foreseeable future (though of course their gerrymandered House districts will defeat true majority rule for some time yet).

Thus, it is not clear to me what the Democrats fear in making a filibuster rules change. Stuffing that change down the throats of the Republicans will make the Dems look like a real party, not a bunch of perennial losers-even-when-they-win.

I personally believe that showing some spunk will help them electorally down the road. Worrying about a possible loss is often a self-fulfilling prophesy.

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