After eight years of living under the dictatorial rule of Mitch McConnell, Senate Democrats as a group still appear to be laboring under some sort of political version of PTSD. This is pretty evident by the fact that McConnell, now the minority leader, is still running the same obstructive game plan he has always run.
There is a characteristic in people that sometimes when living under some sort of oppression, they take on those characteristics and sometimes act on them. This is a huge leap in opinion to say this. But the present facts seem to bear it out.
Let’s take a look at McConnell’s favorite tool: the take it or leave it approach to negotiation—otherwise known as “my way or the highway.” To accomplish this he uses the anachronistic tool of the filibuster. Much can be and has been said about the filibuster and how it has racist origins, etc. These factors are true. But these facts don’t really matter to McConnell. He’ll use whatever tool at his disposal to achieve his end of blocking progress.
But here’s the real point. When it was to his advantage, he modified the filibuster rules. This allowed him to start stacking the Federal courts including the Supreme Court with Trump appointees no matter how unqualified. The last one, Amy Comey Barrett, was a stark demonstration of how nonexistent McConnell’s “principles” actually are.
McConnell has proven time and time again that he will never negotiate in good faith, Constitutional imperatives be damned. But with the filibuster still in existence, why would he.
The Other Side of the Coin
The obvious solution for Democrats is to get rid of the filibuster altogether. Why would they hesitate? Possibly because the last term of Obama and the horror show of Trump’s four years the filibuster rules provided their only shelter. And this brings us to the mental calculation that would prevent the immediate obliteration of the filibuster, “What if we need it again in the future?”
The Senate was designed by the framers as a deliberative body, one that worked with debate and compromised on principles—the actual ideal of a majority rule. Without the filibuster actual negotiation might have to take place—heaven forbid!
The current status quo is ruled by generalized fear on both sides of the aisle. The Republicans are in terror of the fact that their majority no longer exists and even worse, the measures they oppose are very popular with their own constituents. Democrats are in fear that they might lose again in the future because they are just plain lousy at countering the black propaganda campaigns that Republicans use to get elected. Republicans have actually, in a rare moment of candor, admitted that they worry about ever getting elected again if some of these popular measures, like the We the People Act, get passed and signed into law.
Democrats at this time have a better crop of ideas and measures that align with the will and needs of the broad populace. It is time they acted on those ideas and got them enacted. But this means getting rid of McConnell’s ability to obstruct once and for all time.
This means acting on something McConnell demonstrably does not have: principles. Unfortunately, it also means giving up the ability to hedge their bets by leaving the “just in case” of some remnant of the filibuster in place.
The filibuster was never a part of the Constitutional design of the Senate. It simply grew out of the Senate’s ability to create its operating rules. It has a repugnant past, married as it is to the Jim Crow era—and it is being used to allow a return to that ugly time in our history.
In short, Senate Democrats need to stop acting like dogs that have been kicked too often by the bully down the street. It is time to nuke the filibuster and thus cast aside the obstruction it enables.
The biggest barrier to the future health and prosperity of the American people is legislation bought and paid for by a few greedy corporate operators that somehow see personal wealth as money taken from their heaven-anointed pockets. The remedy for this is to take the corporate dark money out of the political process. And getting rid of the filibuster is the linchpin to this.
Senate Democrats, you just have to realize that you no longer answer to Mitch McConnell.
You won! Act like it!