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Reid v. the Filibuster

[ 18 ] May 14, 2012 |

While it won’t do much in the short term for the war to get rid of the indefensible, Harry Reid saying that it was wrong not to restrict the use of the filibuster is a good sign. My guess is that it will require a Republican majority to do it, but eventually things might get bad enough that more senators will start valuing the ability to get some kind of agenda passed over the preservation of their individual prerogatives.

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  1. Murc says:

    About fuckin’ time. You wouldn’t think “If you win, you get to govern” would be something that’s so controversial.

    Although I do think Chait is wrong about one thing; while I can see parties voting against their opponents Supreme Court nominees en masse (which they damn well should; if you have a Senate majority, forcing the White House to send you an acceptable candidate is not just an option, its a responsibility to your constituents) I don’t think we’re QUITE at the point where they could be routinely filibustered.

    Supreme Court nominations are still considered a big deal, and they still get a lot of national news coverage. “Nominee Enters Sixth Month of Filibuster, Cannot Be Confirmed With 55 Voting in Favor” is the sort of headline Senators care about avoiding, because it means not only justifying a no vote, but why you’ve deployed a procedure that much of the nation still associates with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. You don’t get that by blocking a slate of nominees to the 9th Circuit, which is something that merits a two-second mention on the evening news IN the 9th Circuit and nowhere else.

    • James E Powell says:

      But in the case of a filibuster of an Obama nominee, the headline would never be anything like “Nominee Enters Sixth Month of Filibuster, Cannot Be Confirmed With 55 Voting in Favor.”

      It would be “Obama nominee fails again!” with thoughtful analysis that concluded that the nominee was just too much of a radical socialist.

      • themac says:

        ‘Democrats fail to win support for the nominee’ is the way NPR always puts it. That always angries up the blood.

        • Furious Jorge says:

          Nice Polite Republicans.

          I stopped listening four or five years ago, when someone gave Newt Gingrich a platform to pontificate about how the GOP is the party of morality or marriage or some bullshit.

          Which is why I doubt I’d give much of a shit if Republicans ever do manage to defund them.

  2. Sly says:

    If all it does is end the persistent myth that obstructionists aren’t being “forced” to do a “real” filibuster by reading the phone book for hours on end, removing the filibuster would be a net positive.

  3. Ted says:

    But blocking everything Obama does *is* the Republican agenda.

  4. Njorl says:

    I think the filibuster is going away (or more likely it will be defanged) before the next senate is seated. Once one party starts talking about it, the other party would be a fool not to dump it once they are in the majority.

  5. jefft452 says:

    A hundred years ago, Senators were picked by State legislatures, State legislatures that were owned by Copper barons/Coal companies/Railroad tycoons/etc (pick appropriate for your state)

    In order to change to direct popular election, 2/3rds of those same Senators, plus 2/3rds of those same corrupt State houses, would need to vote to amend the Constitution

    This in a time when far fewer people were allowed to vote for State representatives, and Governors were not shy about calling out the militia to shoot down “troublemakers” if the cops in the company town weren’t up to the job

    Yet we now have direct election of Senators

    If the fillibuster doesn’t die, then the fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves

  6. jeer9 says:

    The idea that Republicans will get rid of the filibuster if they gain the majority is ludicrous. The country continues to lurch rightward because nothing remotely progressive can get through the senate. They understand the nature of a long slow haul which they’re winning. Why would they jeopardize such incrementalism when they can count on various DINOs to support their agenda at key moments?

  7. somethingblue says:

    … eventually things might get bad enough that more senators will start valuing the ability to get some kind of agenda passed over the preservation of their individual prerogatives.

    Uh-huh.

  8. catclub says:

    “senators will start valuing the ability to get some kind of agenda passed over the preservation of their individual prerogatives.”

  9. catclub says:

    “senators will start valuing the ability to get some kind of agenda passed over the preservation of their individual prerogatives.”

    I meant to say, before misclicking, that this would happen only if the agenda included items like protecting senators from an angry crowd outside the Senate building, bearing pitchforks and torches. Short of real risk of harm to their lives and livelihood, I am not seeing it.

    I would so like to be wrong.

  10. Malaclypse says:

    Shorter Jennie: Democracy just doesn’t work.

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