The End of the Filibuster: Long Live the Tyranny of the Majority

Amidst years of talking heads in politics yelling that the sky is falling, like the villagers’ ultimate response to the boy who cried wolf, we Americans have become desensitized to the real threats to our system. On this blog, I write about things that involve orthodox Catholic Joy, which generally precludes the standard political discussions. But something happened today, something absolutely terrifying, and I need to address it. 

The United States Constitution, Article II, Section 2, gives the President the power to nominate officials to government, “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate”. Today, the U.S. Senate, currently controlled by the Democratic Party, eliminated the filibuster for almost all presidential nominations.

This is not simply about modernizing arcane parliamentary procedure. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third President of the United States personally drafted the rules that the Democratic Leadership changed, reversing 225 years of precedent and protection that was always intended to keep the Senate as the “upper house” of the Legislative Branch and the hall of reasoned debate and discourse.

The result: rather than forcing the Senate to continue playing by the same rules in place since the institution of our Republic, now all that is needed is a simple majority of senators (rather than the supermajority of 60 senators) to confirm nominees.

It’s being called the “nuclear option” for a reason: it utterly decimates a long-standing protection for the political minority. And it will be wielded in such a way that the party in  control will no longer need to compromise or negotiate to achieve its objectives.

The end of the filibuster for nominees is just another in the long list of things that the current reigning President was against before he was President (when he was a U.S. Senator) but now favors because it represents a further strengthening of his powers as Chief Executive. In 2005, on the floor of the Senate, Mr. Obama, then the Junior Democratic Senator from Illinois, delivered a speech, in which he said:

The American people sent us here to be their voice. They understand that those voices can at times become loud and argumentative, but they also hope that we can disagree without being disagreeable.

What they don’t expect is for one party – be it Republican or Democrat – to change the rules in the middle of the game so that they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet. 
*******
If they [the current {Republican} majority] choose to change the rules and put an end to Democratic debate, then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.

 

But today, His Majesty made a statement in which he noted the various failures of his administration to achieve success in his nominations and legislative agenda, and due to this frustration, he is now in favor of changing the rules that have always governed the process of political appointments. He stated his support of the change to the Senate rules, and refused to take any questions, but as part of his remarks, said the following:

And if there are differences in the Senate, then debate should be had, people should vote their conscience, they should vote on behalf of their constituents, but they should vote. That’s what they’re there to do. And ultimately, if you got a majority of folks who believe in something, then it should be able to pass.

The President of the United States and the Democratic Leadership in the Senate are so politically myopic, so craven for power without compromise, so incapable of admitting even to the possibility of this rule change coming to haunt them in the future, that they now typify the exact political condition that Jefferson and our Founders sought to avoid.

Were it not for the manifold other scandals, games, abuses of executive power and privilege, and outright lies told repeatedly to the American public in order to gain political advantage, we might be able to take the President at his word. But following the ghastly record of this regime, I can only conclude that the President does see himself as a Monarch.

For the future, this can only mean two things: either the Democratic Leadership is egregiously stupid (not impossible!), or it is positively certain that it will retain a hold on the political power given itself for the foreseeable future — forever.

In either case, what happened today sends us even closer to ruin.

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