Anyone who’s followed politics in even the most passing way the last three years has become quite familiar with the Senate Filibuster. It’s the method by which Republicans have delayed or completely halted votes on legislation and President Obama’s appointees since the Tea Party gave the House a majority and broke the super-majority the Democrats had in the Senate back in 2010. It’s no big secret that the GOP’s abuse of the filibuster has been one of their primary weapons, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) this year mounted an effort to reform the Senate’s rules on filibustering, but chickened out in the last minute, deciding he’d like to be to able to abuse the trust of the American people should he ever be in the minority position again himself.
It would appear though, that the rubber is about to hit the road. Back at the start of the year, Reid tabled the filibuster reform debate, essentially giving the Republicans a chance to make good on their promise not to block any more presidential nominees. They’ve broken that promise repeatedly, and now Reid is threatening to bring the debate back up, call the suspended session in order, and exercise his “nuclear” option — completely changing the filibuster rules to need a simple majority for judicial appointees.
Republicans are of course crying foul — after years of acting like smarmy assfaces* — but here are five reasons Reid needs to stiffen whatever’s left of his spine and push forward with the nuclear option.
*technical political science term
#5. He Owes It To Us!
Speaking honestly, I don’t have much trust or respect in Harry Reid anymore. He was awesome in the 2012 elections, calling out Mitt Romney for refusing to release his tax information. He was awesome for two years leading up to the elections, saying as long as the American people left him with a majority in the Senate, he’d hold the Republicans’ feet to the fire and end their death grip on the country by blowing up the filibuster rules and making it so that judicial appointments no longer needed Senate confirmation in the first place. However, Reid’s slippery backroom deal (one that he said he’d not accept by the way) shows that he has a distinct lack of spine. Frankly, Harry owes it to us to do the right thing and exercise his nuclear option if that’s the only way forward the Republicans are giving him.
#4. I Want To See Lamar Alexander’s Head Explode
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) was all in a lather earlier this week when he took to the Senate floor, denouncing Reid for even considering the nuclear option. Alexander wants Reid to keep his promise to the Republicans not to change the filibuster rules, even though the Republicans — Alexander included — have repeatedly broken their promise this year not to block President Obama’s judicial nominees. Wouldn’t be fantastic to watch Lamar Alexander melt into a pool of cheap cologne, NRA campaign contributions and corporate kickbacks as Reid and the Democrats finally got up the gumption to take away the Republicans’ most favored tool of abuse?
#3. Nothing is Getting Done
Here’s the truth — in no uncertain terms — the Republicans have leaned on the filibuster to essentially grind the Obama Administration’s agenda, and therefore the country, to an absolute standstill. It’s one thing to debate new laws, and it’s another to attempt to block any and all nominations simply because they’re terrified that the country is moving to the left and God forbid someone gets appointed that doesn’t have social views right out of the 1840’s. The gridlock in Washington starts at the point where the Constitution’s decree of a simple majority being what rules the day for most votes in the Senate is completely ignored. The nuclear option may be the only chance we have to force the GOP into a negotiating stance instead of a finger in the ear stance.
#2. Because Mitch McConnell’s Threat Is Meaningless
Probably my favorite tantrum that’s been thrown over the nuclear threat by the GOP in recent days is Mitch McConnell’s. McConnell basically told the Reid and the country he better not change the rules so drastically because when the Republicans get a majority, they’ll use it to immediately repeal Obamacare (which would lead to insane protests in the streets, by the way), push through the XL pipeline and pass a whole bunch of right-wing agenda items that the Dems would love to have a crack at filibustering. Reid’s response to Mitch should be simple, “Go for it, Mitch.”
Here’s the thing — McConnell and the Republicans are going to try and make those things happens regardless, so the threat of doing them with their simple majority is meaningless. It’s made even further meaningless by the fact that the XL Pipeline and Obamacare are both two issues that have strong feelings on either side, and should some hypothetical Republican-led senate (good luck making that happen while the GOP shits all over the LGBT and immigrant communities) repeal Obamacare, the outrage from women who lose their access to reproductive health services alone would cause quite a tidal wave. Reid should clearly be ignoring the Republican threats to ruin our country and just push forward with filibuster reform.
#1. That Pesky Constitution
The bottom line for me, and I think for many Americans, is that the Constitution very clearly spells out that for the overwhelming majority of the Senate’s functions, a simple 51-vote majority wins the day. For all their bluster about Reid changing the rules, it’s the Republicans who have been changing the rules since day one. They’ve just been doing it in a backhanded way, but they’ve still managed to twist the parliamentary rules of the Senate into a tool with which to completely stymie the president. I understand that politics is a nasty business, but playing politics to the point that you harm the economy and completely grind our country’s progress to a halt is criminal, if you ask me. Reid need simply hold up a copy of the Constitution — the righties should love that; it’s one of their favorite moves — and tell them if they have a problem with what he’s doing they can take it up with the Founders, because it’s time for business to be conducted as usual in our capital.