But more than that, by changing the filibuster rules on lifetime appointments to the judiciary, what’s to stop any future majority leader from changing them for legislation? The Democrats would have no credibility when it comes to their outrage should Republicans take the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016 and invoke the Reid Rule to repeal not only Obamacare, but every piece of legislation Democrats passed in the Obama years. Moreover, they would be nothing more than speech machines while Republicans eliminated entire departments.
Imagine Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., eliminating the EPA, Department of Education and more while Democrats stood by with nothing but the bitter taste of karma in their mouths and the knowledge they did this to themselves. Come to think of it, that doesn’t sound too bad.
If Republicans held the House of Representatives and took the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016, they could move to change the rules of the Senate to eliminate the filibuster completely, pass a constitutionally conservative agenda, and dramatically reduce the size and scope of government. Then, following the Reid Rule of a simple majority to change Senate rules at any time, create the McConnell Rule – vote to reinstate the filibuster and to change the rules of the Senate to require 75 votes to change Senate rules in the future. That would lock in those changes for essentially forever.
Of course that probably won’t happen, nor should it, but thanks to Harry Reid and the 51 other Democrats who voted this week to push the button on the “nuclear options,” it could.
Our Founding Fathers loathed the tyranny of the majority as much as that of a king. As such, they set up a system of government designed, as best they could, to prevent it. Individuals were empowered at birth to control the fate of their lives and the Constitution put the federal government in a small box to handle threats—internal and external—that threatened that empowerment. Over the last century, progressives in both parties chipped away at that box and allowed government to ooze into the lives of Americans in ways that are distinctly un-American. But the basic foundation of the box was at least still visible.
On Thursday, Harry Reid took a sledgehammer to a large portion of the foundation of that box by weakening the upper chamber of Congress and effectively turning the Senate into a more exclusive version of the House of Representatives. He did so to the cheers of his colleagues, his base, his party, the media and the president of the United States.
Knowing this, a “McConnell Rule” or something more dramatic one day in response to the actions of Democrats this week doesn’t seem all that far-fetched. Mutually Assured Destruction was the deterrent to the use of nuclear weapons during the Cold War, and the Democrats just pushed the button. They have to expect something to happen in response.