“You’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think,” then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in 2013 upon Senate Democrats’ invoking the “nuclear option” to prevent Senate Republicans from filibustering all lower-court judicial nominations. And so it was: In 2017, facing fierce Democratic opposition on the nomination of then-Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, then-Majority Leader McConnell galvanized Republicans to extend Reid’s precedent to Supreme Court nominees. Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett all ended up benefiting by means of razor-thin confirmation margins on the Senate floor that would not have been possible with traditional filibuster rules in place.
Fast-forward to 2021, and Democrats are now flirting with making precisely the same mistake they made in 2013. Earlier this week, President Joe Biden came out in favor of filibuster reform. Specifically, in an ABC interview, he appeared to endorse reforming Senate procedure to return to the “talking filibuster” made famous by the classic Jimmy Stewart film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” “What it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days, you had to stand up and command the floor. You had to keep talking,” Biden said. “That’s what it was supposed to be.”
To be sure, ending the Senate filibuster is hardly a fait accompli. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have expressed reservations, and in a 50-50 deadlocked Senate, Democrats cannot afford to lose a single vote. But if they end up yielding to the already-escalating grassroots pressure and join their colleagues to end or “reform” the filibuster — more likely than not, this columnist thinks — Democrats may enjoy short-term gains but will regret their move just as quickly as they came to regret its 2013 predecessor.
First, the very nature of the Senate tends to structurally favor Republicans, given their current political and geographical coalition, in a way that the House does not. Republicans tend to dominate the more sparsely populated, culturally conservative flyover states, which means they can more easily attain a Senate majority without necessarily winning a majority of all popular votes cast over the course of the three election cycles that, combined, generate the Senate’s composition. In this respect, the Senate is similar to the Electoral College, another counter-majoritarian institution that has recently benefited Republicans more than Democrats — to wit, the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections.
Furthermore, the slowly changing nature of conservatism and the Republican Party may redound against Democrats’ interests. The post-World War II modern GOP has been a coalitional party sustained by cultural conservatives and economic libertarians, but more often than not, the party erred on the classical liberal side encapsulated by Henry David Thoreau’s line from his essay “Civil Disobedience”: “The government is best which governs least.” But ever since Donald Trump’s presidential election in 2016, the GOP’s classical liberal wing has faced a strong countervailing force in an ascendant nationalist/communitarian wing that is more willing to wield government power in the service of good political order to secure the common good. Thus, while the GOP of yesteryear may have been less eager to actually utilize a post-filibuster Senate to advance its agenda, the newer GOP would be more inclined to reward its friends and punish its enemies within the confines of the rule of law.
Perhaps most important, dispensing with the Senate filibuster would accelerate the Senate’s lamentable institutional decline. The “world’s greatest deliberative body” was, especially prior to the ratification of the 17th Amendment, intended to be a “cooling saucer” of sorts that filters out and soberizes the House’s hotter, intemperate passions. The filibuster, which is legally not a constitutional or statutory provision but instead merely a rule of internal Senate procedure, has nonetheless attained an ethos of quasi-constitutional status. Put another way, it is philosophically and intellectually downstream of the counter-majoritarian features that have attained constitutional status, such as the federalism and separation of powers constructs. In a sense, then, the Senate filibuster directly flows from James Madison’s famous discussion of “faction” in “The Federalist No. 10,” the most famous Founding-era writing on the insidious threat of majoritarian tyranny.
Nuking the Senate filibuster — something Republicans notably eschewed during their own Trump-era control of the Senate — would undermine the American political order, in which counter-majoritarian measures are deeply woven. But it would also be a shortsighted move, even from a cynical, partisan perspective. If dedication to James Madison doesn’t prevent Democrats from embarking on this misplaced crusade, perhaps their own long-term self-interest will.
To find out more about Josh Hammer and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Of course, Democrats would be shortsighted and foolish to nuke the filibuster, but when dealing with Democrats you must understand they are people of the immediate gratification with no concern of the long-term damage that always awaits their own persons and the people they lead astray, any more than a druggie thinks about the pain of the detoxification that HE KNOWS always follows that heroine injection,,,, anymore than a sexual predator in the heat of passion thinks about a possible pregnancy or molestation arrest. Democrats are emotionally driven to the point of pathology, and we now are not governed in reason, but ruled in the passion flavor to the day that always leaves a heavy head and a bad taste in your mouth upon awakening the next morning. We have voted ourselves into a nation of hangovers, with the noose closing more tightly about our throats each day they remain in power.
Smart people elect people who work first, play later,,,never play first, and pay later. Thanks to spend now and play now Democrats, we are ALL living on borrowed time. You now know how the Romans felt as their empire wasted away in greed, orgies, power politics which when it finally infiltrated and reached the military it was game over, with an “Et Tu Brute” organized Senate like the one we have today. just ask the guardsman who have guard it to protect them from themselves.
BUT since the FIRST THING THEY WOULD do, once they nixxed the fillibuster, was SHOVE HR1 down everyone’s throats, so THEIR FRAUD BECAME LAW, what exactly would they ‘regret? AS HR1 would ensure THAT no republican ever again wins any election.. ERGO THEIR Majority would always be secure.
“First, the very nature of the Senate tends to structurally favor Republicans”. The Senate “structurally” favors Republicans, with the voter fraud instituted by the communist Democrats?????? So much for “favoring” Republicans. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have expressed reservations,”. Yep, we can really rely on Joe Manchin, who talks a great game and then votes along party lines. It sure must be great to have a “nice dream” once in a while. The problem is, when communists are running our Country, “nice dreams” do not translate into reality.
Unfortunately with this “For the People Act”, it won’t matter anymore. This is designed to give the dimocrats full control of all future elections anyway. If memory serves me, Oregon has been operating their elections that way for over a decade. Only one Republican has won a state office since then and that was in a deep red area in the eastern part of the state. Democrats never do anything for the people, it’s always for the democrat leaders and their lust for power
How does it “Favor republicans”??
EVERY TIME THEY have been in the majority, they’ve WUSSED OUT and caved into the dems, time and time again..
Every time Democrats try to tip the balanes of power to favor their majority, however small, it ends up being used against them and the only thing they can claim is foul! They did it with voting for judges and Donald Trump appointed three. Considering many of the latest ‘accomplisments’ of the Democrats in the House and Senate their tenuous hold may be very fleeting.
It’s going to work to their advantage until it doesn’t and then it’s back to the drawing table.
“You’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think,”
Like in 2025 when President Trump and a Republican House and a Republican Senate starts rescinding the Joe Biden era laws and regulations.
You are day dreaming, if you think Trump will win again in 2024 and the GOP gets a majority back in both the house and senate, ESPECIALLY WITH THE DEM vote fraud machine, in full operation.
I could support reverting to the talking filibuster provided the rules require the senators to talk about the bill and the issues being addressed by the bill.
The current system requires 60 senators to get much done. A talking filibuster would effectively stall the progress of the Senate until an issue was resolved. After two or three days listening to somebody talk non-stop about a bill there might be a push from both sides of the aisle to come together and work out a bill that both sides could agree on. This would be especially true as one of the Senate’s many vacations drew near.
We would all be better off if our elected officials listened to the concerns of each other on an issue and tried to craft a bill which everyone could support. For example, I don’t support the Democrats’ immigration plans, but I have no problem with allowing people to come to our country provided they do so legally. Those who come here legally to work usually are treated far better than the illegals are treated. Plus we need to limit the influx to a pace where we can assimilate them into society.
NEVER EVER listen to the left. ALl their ideas are designed to RUIN THIS nation.