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April 24, 2005

The Filibuster: What If?

Very, very interesting comments regarding potential outcomes should the nuclear option be exercised.

From the American Scene. Once comments are working, give us your take. What do my SCO comrades think?

Posted by Matt at April 24, 2005 03:22 PM

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Comments should be working now... If they aren't, I totally give up. Someone please help stop the insanity!!!

Posted by: Rick Brady at April 24, 2005 05:32 PM

I have no idea who came up with the dumb figure of speech "nuclear option," but it seems to be some kind of spin effort. The word "filibuster" is already goofy enough, so I suppose it's an example of fighting fire with fire (or dumb with dumber).

Let's get a few points clear:
At this point there has not been any filibuster, just the threat of one.
The use of a filibuster is the one remaining tool in the Senate rules that can be used by a minority to protect against a "tyranny of the majority."
A filibuster can be overcome by a cloture vote. The number of votes necessary for cloture is now 60 (down from a few years ago when the rule was watered down a bit).
All this hubbub is over NINE VOTES, the difference between 51 and 60, which would require a modest "super-majority" to get past a stubborn minority - whoever they might be.
A change in the Senate rules will effectively render the filibuster obsolete as a political tool.
Most people have no idea what the word means or what the long-term significance of doing away with it would be.

Does that about cover it?
When I was younger and more passionate I considered the filibuster to be one of the most diabilocal of all parliamentary procedures, a naked attempt by a stubborn minority to have their way with the "majority". Remember, a "majority" is anything over half. A single vote does the trick.

My thinking changed as I got older. The results of the last presidential election confirms my opinion that the actions and words of a losing "minority" can have a very corrosive impact in the aftermath of any vote, because voting does not change attitudes. Voting only ends a conflict in a formal manner.

I believe that when there is "filibuster" talk, the time has come for a "super majority" to send a clear message to what should be a small enough minority to pay attention when their peers say "Get over it. This is how is is going to be."

That cannot happen with a simple majority.
My views are spelled out at my blog, linked above.
Thank you for shining a light on this important, but obscure relic of parliamentary debate.

Posted by: John Ballard at April 24, 2005 09:08 PM