Friday, November 08, 2013

Nuke the filibuster already

I've long resisted the calls to kill the filibuster but I no longer have any doubt if the Republicans ever manage to bamboozle the electorate into giving them back a majority in the Senate, the very first thing they'll do is abolish it. So if Democrats could nuke the filibuster please. It's not that I don't appreciate this sort of chatter:
From young newbies to the old guards, Democratic senators are clamoring for filibuster reform, and insist that a mass Republican blockade of three judges to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals may be the final straw before going nuclear.

"It would mean they've totally gone back on what they said when there was a Republican president," Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the longest-serving member of the chamber, told TPM. "It would be such a reversal that I think there'd be overwhelming pressure to change the rules."
It's just that Democrats have been making the threat for so long it's no longer credible. The GOPers mock it. Shrug it off. As John Mccain said, "Someday Republicans will be in the majority, and if they set this precedent, they may not like the result. What goes around comes around in this town."

Republicans won't need any precedent to ramrod through their corporatist agenda. They've proven many times over, they have no honor. They have no scruples. They're unencumbered by ethics. Republicans will kill the filibuster out of the gate so Democrats can't use their own dirty dealing, obstruction tactics against them.

Democrats have to do it now while there's still time to accomplish something of value. And nothing is more valuable than striking a balance on the D.C. Circuit court. If you missed it last week, Brian Beutler already explained why the GOP are blocking judicial nominations
First, let me stipulate that I believe the Senate rules give the minority way too much power, not just over nominations, but over legislation as well. I think Democrats made an error in 2005 by “capitulating,” instead of allowing Republicans to go nuclear over President Bush’s judicial nominees. And whatever dilatory mechanisms senators want to erect to prevent the Senate from becoming too much like the House, the supermajority cloture era is anti-democratic and unsustainable in a polarized system like ours. [...]

But the trick Senate Republicans are playing this year — the power they’re exerting over both the executive and the judiciary — is new, and disjoined from the question of whether individual nominees deserve to serve in either branch of government. They’re denying (or threatening to deny) confirmation to any nominees in order to nullify laws, stymie legitimate policymaking, and “reverse court pack” — keep liberal judges off of one key appellate court in order to preserve its conservative balance for as long as possible.
That court is poised to destroy decades worth of hard fought for socially responsible progress. By intent and tradition, for the last 200+ years empty seats on the benches have been filled by the winners of the election so as to reflect the will of the people. As was passing legislation without requiring a super majority for every single bill. Republicans have overturned all of that outside the electoral process. The crackpot conservatives have transformed the Senate Gentlemen's Club into a frat house. That precedent certainly can't stand. So stop them. At this point, Democrats have nothing to lose by nuking the filibuster first, except excuses for inaction.

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