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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

 
What filibuster supporters don't understand

by David Atkins

Senate Republicans have blocked against Obama nominee to the important D.C. circuit court through yet another filibuster. They don't have a good reason to block the nominee outside of naked abuse of power. They're doing it because they can, because not enough Senate Democrats stood up against the filibuster on judicial nominees. Now Senate Democrats are once again considering doing away with the filibuster at least for judicial nominees.

Opponents of fixing the filibuster are worried that disaster could strike if and when Republicans hold the White House and Senate again, if filibuster rules are weakened.

But this is foolish and shortsighted. For the next two years there is no danger as a Democratic President continues to hold the White House. Beyond that, the likelihood that the GOP will hold both Presidency and Senate is low. And if that should come to pass, then the American people should quite frankly get the government they voted for, without a continual run of judicial filibusters from Democrats (to say nothing of the fact that Democrats won't be as obstructionist as Republicans in that situation, a fact that by itself creates a structural advantage for Republicans as long as current rules are in place.)

More than that, however, there is a political urgency at work. We are in a near permanent depression economy and climate change is nipping at our heels in a bad way. The nation, quite frankly, doesn't have time to wait out the next two years watching Republicans obstruct absolutely everything, then sit tight as a Republican president himself gets obstructed by Democrats until 2020. The cost of inaction is far, far too high. The risk that Republicans take the Presidency and Senate in 2016 is far less than the risk to the country if nothing is done to break the legislative logjam.

Filibuster supporters tend to be complacent supporters of the status quo. Those in favor of a fix aren't just aggressive partisans who want to get their way immediately. We're cognizant that keeping the status quo is the most dangerous option of all.


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