Death of the filibuster

It appears that that sacred cow of U.S. Senate tradition known as the filibuster is dead.  OK, maybe it’s only half dead, since the Democratic leadership only surgically removed it for presidential appointments other than the Supreme Court (i.e. SCOTUS appointments and legislation can technically still be subject to the procedure).  But the Republican leadership has already signaled – okay, SWORN – to eliminate it for everything in retaliation for this “travesty” just as soon as they are returned to the majority.

In other words, Republicans say, the Democrats have wreaked heinous damage upon our democracy … and so we’re going to render that damage both permanent and complete, just as soon as we’re given the chance.  Almost makes you think that’s what they wanted to begin with, only this is much better because now they can blame the whole thing on the Democrats.

Whatever you think of the filibuster, one thing is certain.  Republicans have adhered meticulously to the strategy they famously hatched on inauguration night in 2009 (as documented by author Robert Draper) to oppose Obama’s every policy, appointment and legislative initiative.

How bad is it?  The record on executive appointments, alone:

Senate filibusters of executive appointments since 1952.

This is clearly unprecedented abuse of what was once a time-honored Senate tradition of respecting minority party rights.  But it has gotten completely out of hand, as Republicans vowed on that January night in 2009.  It is no longer used solely, as intended, in rare or extreme cases, but rather invoked routinely and pettily as a way to prevent the Executive branch from doing its job.

Elections are supposed to have consequences.  The president is supposed to be able to make appointments.  Most of those he has made have not been subject to opposition over their qualifications or even ideology, but merely as a way of keeping the president from getting things done.  You need look no further than this Republican strategy of obstruction at all costs to understand why absolutely nothing is getting done in Washington.  That’s not good for the country, and voters should make Republicans pay a price for it in 2014.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *