It’s Time to Dump the Filibuster

by W.D. Ehrhart

Let’s take a look at the Republican Party this spring of 2021.

We have Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, who pumps a raised fist on January 6th in support of the MAGA insurrectionists.

We have Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia, who likens smashing windows and beating police with American flags and hockey sticks to a “normal tourist visit,” and insists that the supporters of former President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol behaved “in an orderly fashion.”

We have Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, who says the Justice Department is “harassing peaceful patriots” who came to DC on January 6th to exercise their 1st Amendment rights.

We have Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who says of Trump, “Enough’s enough,” then travels to Mar-a-Lago to kiss Trump’s ass.

We have House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who says Trump “bears responsibility” for the violent insurrection by a mob of MAGA supporters, then flies to Mar-A-Lago to apologize to Trump.

We have Senator Roy Blunt, also of Missouri, who believes it’s “too early” to create a commission, while Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota is worried about the commission “dragging on indefinitely.”

We have Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who says there is already “no shortage of robust investigations” into January 6th.

We have Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama who is opposed to an investigation into January 6th “until they make it bipartisan,” though the panel would consist of an equal number of Democratic and Republican appointees.

And as long as I’m mentioning notable Republicans, I just can’t overlook Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who equates proof of vaccination to gain access to the floor of the House with the Yellow Stars German Jews had to wear in Nazi Germany, and Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who demands the right to carry her Glock automatic pistol onto the floor of the House.

Speaking of Republicans, the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate has hired Cyber Ninjas, a company that has never audited any previous election, and whose founder and CEO, Doug Logan, is a committed supporter of Trump, to audit the 2020 presidential election results in that state.

At the same time, 361 voter suppression bills have been introduced in 47 states, almost exclusively by Republicans.  Georgia, Iowa, Utah & Arkansas have already passed such bills with Florida and Texas in hot pursuit.  All of this to make our elections “fair and honest” in spite of the fact that voter fraud in US elections at every level is statistically negligible, and every election official across the country insists that this 2020 election was the fairest in US history.

Meanwhile, President Biden’s sweeping recovery bills, announced with such fanfare and to overwhelming public support months ago, are still stalled in the Senate.  His Infrastructure Jobs Plan, which would rebuild roads and bridges, boost broadband access, and make other improvements; and his Families Plan, which would expand preschool and college opportunities, create a national family and medical leave program, distribute child care subsidies, and make other similar investments, are both awaiting just ten Republican votes in the Senate to get beyond the filibuster threshold of 60 votes, as is the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

I fear Uncle Joe and his Democratic colleagues are going to be waiting until Hell freezes over—a terrible cliché, but sadly true—for those needed Republican votes.  Already the Republicans have responded with badly watered down counterproposals to the Jobs and Families Plans.  As if they’re actually willing to sign off on anything even resembling what’s required.  As if Moscow Mitch and his cronies have any intention of agreeing to bipartisan anything.

Meanwhile, support for Biden’s proposals will end up dying quietly of inertia as the Democrats fritter away their election goodwill and once again turn their backs on working Americans while ordinary people return in disgusted resignation to a sorry acceptance of the way things are and have been since at least the early Clinton years.

After the experience of the past 25 years—since at least that vile “Contract with America” Newt Gingrich foisted on the nation—how any Democrat with a functioning memory can imagine bipartisan government is utterly beyond me.  (Joe Manchin, are you really this stupid or do you just like to be the center of attention?)

Yes, we run the risk of the Republicans steamrolling their own agenda through the legislature in the future if we get rid of the filibuster, but that’s a risk we ought to be willing to take, considering that the Republicans have misused that same filibuster to stymie virtually every aspect of the Democratic agenda since the beginning of the Obama administration.

And if the present Democratic White House and Democratic Congress don’t make significant progress in alleviating the distress of ordinary working Americans, visibly and soon, they may never get another chance to get anything done.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have no particular fondness for the Democrats, who, at least since the Clinton years, have behaved like Republican Lite, and bear a great deal of responsibility for delivering the country into the hands of #45.

But if I’ve learned anything since November 2016, I’ve learned that while the Democratic Party is hardly worthy of champagne and tickertape parades, the Republican Party has simply ceased to bear even a passing resemblance to a collection of sane and decent human beings.

And as long as the filibuster remains, Democratic control of Congress and the White House are largely meaningless, nothing of significance will get accomplished in Washington, and by the next election cycle millions of Americans will once again be willing to listen to rogues, charlatans, fascists, and demagogues.

It’s time to put an end to an undemocratic and anachronistic legislative ritual.

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