Friday, December 12, 2008

Abolishing the filibuster

Josh Marshall published a comment from one of his readers that said something entirely sensible that I've seen hardly anyone talking about: it's time for the Democratic Senate to abolish the filibuster.

Now, I've always had kind of a warm and fuzzy feeling about the whole concept of the filibuster because I remember those junior-high and high-school civics and history lessons where we heard cute stories about what kind of strange things Senators have read into the official record in the course of filibusters.

But it's a Senate rule, not a law or a Constitutional provision. The Senate can abolish it with a majority vote.

And today's Republican Party is an authoritarian party that won't hesitate to use the filibuster as they just did to sink the auto bailout bill. In order to create more problems for the incoming Democratic administration - and probably at least as important to them, to try to wreck the United Auto Workers union - the Republicans were willing to risk another devastating blow to the economy and to use the filibuster to accomplish that dubious achievement. To show you how bad it is, even Dick Cheney took a more reasonable position than the Senate Republicans. For more about this aspect, see Memeorandum.

The Republicans were ready to abolish the filibuster back in 2006. Remember the "nuclear option" and the "Gang of 14"? In reality, the "Gang of 14" compromise - which like most such compromises during the Bush years gave the Republicans almost everything they wanted - effectively abolished the filibuster anyway.

The Democrats can't fight the Republicans effectively if the Reps are willing to filibuster to death anything and everything of major importance. It's time to abolish the filibuster.

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