The Eclectic Quill

February 13, 2009

Some Alternate Ways to Get Past a Filibuster

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 7:59 am

There’s been a lot of talk about how the Democrats had to work out a Faustian deal with the Republicans in order to secure the stimulus package. Some of the most stimulative effects were taken out though, and in the end of it we see a “compromise” that may not be effective enough. If it isn’t, the Republicans will say that it proves that spending doesn’t work. In short, the package was sabotaged by the Taliban, but the Democrats had to let it happen out of necessity. This of course refers to the magic 2 votes, the difference between a majority and a super majority. This demonstrates the problem with the Democratic party. They let the Republicans roll over them when they have 50 votes and when they have 41. There are other ways to avoid a filibuster after all and here are a few options they might want to try.

  1. Threaten to provisionally seat Al Franken. First it would irk the Republicans to no end and that would be worth seeing all by itself. Can you imagine the bluster that would come out of them? The Democrats though could just respond that the Republicans have forced their hand. They tried to play nice but the Republicans wouldn’t go along so they are playing the hardball game themselves. The Democrats could then try and work one liberal Senator such as Snow into their corner with promises of the kitchen sink.
  2. Begin congressional investigations into the Bush administration for war crimes since the government doesn’t have anything else to do in the midst of the filibuster. I’m sure the Republicans would love to have that information filling the news. The two stories in tandem would be great for 2010; several Republican Senators already looking at uphill battles would love to explain to their electorates why they were blocking the vote to create new jobs while they were defending their party’s involvement in war crimes, spying, and torture.
  3. Make them actually filibuster. Instead of this namby-pamby kind of filibuster, make them filibuster for real. Make them read the phone book and all of that jazz. There’s a reason those rules were a part of the filibustering, it makes it harder and making it harder prevents the abuse of the rule. I don’t like the idea of a “nuclear option” because I think there should be an opportunity for filibustering, but I think that it should be used with discretion and respect. The Republicans don’t do that. I for one am not eager to watching 2 years of filibustering, especially if it’s free.
  4. A provisional “nuclear option.” Temporarily remove the constraints under the pretext of a national emergency. The Republicans have been blasting Obama for using “scare tactics.” They compare what Obama is doing to what Bush did to garner support for the war. There’s a big difference though, this threat is real and the Iraqi threat wasn’t. If they do this though the Democrats need to muscle up and fight the press war with a little more vehemence. Instead of rolling over they would need to push much harder than they normally do.
  5. Filibuster the filibuster. I know, it sounds kind of corny, but I think it would be hilarious. It would of course be ironic, but the Republicans, due to their knee-jerk way of responding to things, would come out all against filibusters and whining about how the Democrats are slowing things down. Then the Democrats could say OK then we’ll stop the filibuster. Then the Republicans won’t be able to filibuster because just a day before they were complaining about filibustering.

However they do it the Democrats need to figure out a way to get legislation passed without surrendering the ideological war. I think they should be willing to compromise on specifics, but not on essence. In essence government is a solution, not a problem. Democrats believe this, Republicans don’t. Republicans have been fighting for 30 years to drive it into our heads that government is the bad guy. The Democrats need to start reversing this war on the most basic of democratic (small “d” intentional) paradigms, that government is of the people, by the people and for the people.


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