By Ron Brzoska
Today we are one more step towards a monarchy. Today Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats chose the “nuclear option” and changed the senate rules on filibusters to allow a simple majority to close a filibuster rather than requiring 60% for the Senate to close debate and call for a vote on judicial appointments. Democrats argue that this is necessary to stop the Republicans from spitefully blocking President Obama’s nominees from appointment. They argue that this stops gridlock and speeds up the business of government.
They are correct. They are correct because you can’t have gridlock without debate. They are correct about speeding up government, because you can’t stop if you remove the brakes. You may still wonder why we should be concerned. Doesn’t this make government more efficient? Doesn’t this stop the senseless bickering? Isn’t it ok because the same rules will apply when Republicans are in charge?
If by being efficient, you mean that there are no longer any checks and balances on presidential appointments, then yes, you would be correct. Going back to my earlier analogy about removing the brakes, does removing the brakes from your car make for a better car, or one that just blows through stop signs? You are not safer. This is not better government. This is a rubber stamp. This means that the only thing that can stop an Obama appointee from confirmation is scandal. The healthy debate over the course of policy in our country will not take place. This is what John Locke referred to as tyranny of the majority. All appointments will be made along party lines. The people are not being considered; agendas are.
But why? Why would the Democrats do this? Why would they have been so much against this in the past that they would do a 180 now? Where did this come from anyway? The truth of the matter is that President Obama will be making judicial appointments soon. In order to stave off the challenges to the executive orders and other overreaches his administration has put in place, he will need a very like-minded activist court that has an evolving interpretation of the Constitution. The ability to filibuster nominations forces President Obama to nominate more moderate judges to these posts in order to avoid filibusters and fill the vacancies. It is not a lock that a moderate judge will agree with the Obama Administration’s interpretation of the constitution and may vote in favor of a more Republican traditional interpretation. By taking away the filibuster, Harry Reid allows the president to appoint the most progressive judicial candidates, thereby insulating their policies from challenge.
If you agree with the policies of President Obama and Senator Reid, then you might tell me that it’s too bad. My side lost, get over it. This is what happens when you win elections. I respond by saying that winning and losing elections is not the point. American government is not supposed to be so knee-jerk. The United States is a representative republic. We cannot deny a party their right to participate. Would it be right if Mitt Romney had won Republicans were behaving the same way? No. It is not about the letter next to the Senator’s name. This is about consensus and cooperation forming policy, not partisanship. President Obama promised to be a post-partisan president. Today’s actions in the senate make him a hyper-partisan president.