Filibuster Fears: Why are the Dems So Afraid?
I know I am old. I am old enough to remember real filibusters, not procedural filibusters, and how stupid those filibustering Senators looked to the public. It is not likely that the Senate is going to change its archaic procedures. So be it.
While the filibuster is undemocratic the filibuster is also a grand old tradition within the Senate. It has been used by both sides. We tend to forget that the individual or party filibustering gets a great big gobsmack of stupid laid on him/her/them under the full light of the national media. I have seen that happen even to filibusterers who were holding out for a position I favored. It didn't matter. People don't mind our leaders talking about obstructing action by saying that they have a better solution --- unless they actually do it in plain sight, hour after hour, day after day.
Now, I admit that exposure in the media has not stopped all filibusters. But procedural filibusters get almost no exposure in the media. They are a big yawn to the press. It all takes place under the table. That is because the procedural filibuster which has been in place since 1975 requires that 2/5 of the Senate can simply indicate that they intend to filibuster. They don't even have to vote, or to actually filibuster, or even to say a word.
But what the Democratic leadership never says is that the power to compel a vote remains with the Majority Leader. So why is Reid not using it? Why does he not call for cloture and let the Republicans talk it to death? Bring the obstructionism into the light. Every single time they threaten a procedural filibuster, let them prove they have the votes to prevent cloture, by calling for cloture when they obstruct.
Let the Republicans stand up and defend why they are holding up all legislation and all activity in the Senate, rather than seeking compromise to get important legislation passed. Do the Democrats really not have better reasons that they can argue for passing it?
Do the Democrats really think that it is better to let the Senate pass some minor legislation so it can say it is "doing" something, than it is to bring the obstructionists into the light once and for all? They do not have to expose health care to a big fight. That has already passed the Senate.
Pick some other important legislation that the Republicans are just obstructing out of "principle," however they define that. Pick something that will make them look especially bull headed and narrow minded. That shouldn't be all that hard.
But Reid does not have any testicular fortitude. And so the 60, now 59, person Democratic coalition runs in mortal fear at the threat of a filibuster if it is even whispered by the Republican leadership. Of course, the Republicans don't whisper, they shout and the louder they shout the faster the Democrats run.
Does no one else see the madness in this Democratic "tactic" of running in fear from the minority? Just how does this help Democrats win in the Fall elections? Are Americans supposed to vote for spineless leaders who are not willing to throw the light on the obstructionists in the Senate?
Do the Democrats actually think that they will have no way to defend allowing the Republicans to out themselves as the "Party of NO" that they actually are. That is not just a name. It is the truth.
Now one point that needs to be made, urgently, is that essentially NOTHING is getting done in the Senate anyway given the Republican positioning and it will only stagnate more with 41 members in opposition. There is no sensible reason for the country to continue to see the Democrats as weaklings, spineless in the face of the seeming "Moral Minority."
Finally, considering the botched job both parties are doing in both houses of Congress it might be better for the country if they just did nothing for a while. Someone wrote in our local newspaper today that "We ought to pay Congress to just go home." I think that is the mood of many in this nation right now.
It is time for the Democratic Senate leadership to take on the Republicans, and just let them put their own feet in their own mouths.