Monday, December 28, 2009

Bye Bye Filibusters?

According to The Hill, Senator Tom Harkin (D. Iowa) is preparing to introduce legislation to curb the filibuster in the Senate. According to Senator Harkin, the filibuster is being abused by Republicans who use it too often:
You're supposed to filibuster something that is a deep seated issue. . . The idea is to give some time for extended debate but eventually allow a majority to work its will. I do believe there's some reason to have extended debate.
The good Senator Harkin assures us he comes by his proposal honestly (since he first proposed it when a member of the minority); and is not coming forward with it now simply because he’s in the majority -- that same majority that has been absolutely beside itself with spitting angry rage at the minority’s recalcitrance and refusal to drink either the Left’s health care Kool-Aid or the cap-and-trade hemlock. The Democrats are furious that the Republicans are making them amass 60-vote super majorities over small beans like a government takeover of a sixth of the US economy.
Now I know that as a conservative I am supposed to be against this. Jay Cost, over at Real Clear Politics, has today provided all three bipartisans still existing in the United States with very cogent arguments setting out why keeping the filibuster is a smart idea, and arguing that this pesky parliamentary device is more essential now than ever before:
. . . the party extremes have grown farther apart. . . there are now fewer genuine moderates in the United States Senate than at any point in the last half century. Third, there used to be a sizeable ideological overlap between the two parties . . . It no longer exists. Put simply, the Senate parties have become ideologically polarized.
This helps explain the increasing use of the filibuster. As the parties drift apart ideologically, the majority party will more likely introduce legislation that the minority party can't accept . . . Using the filibuster is thus a rational response when one finds oneself in the smaller half of a polarized chamber, which is more likely to be the case today than 45 years ago
That all makes splendid practical sense,  if you disregard the fact that the filibuster is not working. Thanks to last year's perfect storm of an electoral debacle, the Democrats have the 60 votes to break  filibusters, especially since the Blue Dogs are a bunch of spineless lapdogs. (Oh, they'll bloviate, whine and promise, but the Left buys or rolls them every time, while the lapdogs  hold their noses, pocket their money and assume pious expressions). Thanks to the same filibuster, once this monstrosity is passed, there is very little chance of undoing it, whatever happens in 2010 or 2012. This albatross will have to be endured until it fiscally wrecks us.
It’s time for a display of bipartisanship. Senator Harkin is right. The majority should eventually be allowed, as he puts it, to “work its will.” Here’s hoping his bill gets 40 Republican co-sponsors in the Senate. As our President has so rightly told us, "elections have consequences." For a time, the Democrats can keep running wild, and we can have the government the Left thinks we deserve.  But that’s not the end of the story. Come November 2010, there are likely to be some more consequences, and even bigger ones in 2012. Perhaps majorities will work their will in ways not at all to Senator Harkin’s liking. Nice thought anyway.

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