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Is it ageist to ask why old people are so terrible?


Just kidding snowflakes! But srsly, this is not good:

Note that Feinstein (D-Gerontocracy) is in line to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee if the Democrats take the Senate six weeks from today, which in turn means that as a practical matter court expansion or indeed passing any other laws of any significance would be dead in the water if she and just one or two other Democrats stick to this position.

Now I generally agree with Scott that when push comes to shove Feinstein et. al. won’t actually continue to take this view if the Republicans block everything, which of course they will. But that’s far from a sure thing, and in any case why advertise to voters that your plan right now is to let Republicans obstruct everything if you should be so fortunate as to have a chance to actually do anything?

It’s worth emphasizing something that I don’t think most politically aware liberals and leftists — let alone ordinary voters — appreciate, which is that the filibuster in its current form is a very recent “innovation,” as opposed to part of Sacred and Holy Constitutional Writ: prior to the 1970s the filibuster was very rarely employed, because it was rightly considered a radical procedural tactic, that should be used only under the most extreme circumstances, when something truly terrible was being proposed (like civil equality for black people).

ETA: Murc in comments adds another under-appreciated point:

My understanding is that during the 70s, filibuster reform was considered; nobody really wanted to END it, per se, but Senators didn’t really like the idea of a talking filibuster that gummed up the entire Senate and made everybody look bad.

So they hit on the innovation of allowing a non-filibustering filibuster, where you can do a filibuster without actually needing to get up and go the full Mr. Smith. This, of course, is the absolute worst of all worlds; it keeps the filibuster around AND removes the downside of doing it, which is you gotta put a bunch of schmucks up there reading out the phone book and nothing else gets done.

The idea that 40 Senate votes — in a country where 40 senators can come from states that represent a total of 11% of all national voters! — can unilaterally block legislation of any significance is a recent development, that is actually part of the ongoing Republican war on democracy. It has been accepted with such equanimity because a whole lot of people, including “liberals” like Feinstein, are actually A-OK with that war, or at least not upset enough to actually do anything about it.

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