This movement is, at base, a power grab. And it’s one that, if successful, could come back to haunt Udall and his colleagues. Republicans already hold 47 seats in the Senate. What if, after the next election, that chamber flips from Democratic control, as the House already has? According to Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): “All [Democrats] need to do is watch [House Speaker] John Boehner over the next two years, and say, ‘Do I want that in the Senate?’” What goes around comes around.
What we really need is for the Senate to return to a period of genuine debate and discussion. The filibuster is a key element in this. As Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said in his Nov. 30 farewell address: “I can understand the temptation to change the rules that make the Senate so unique -- and, simultaneously, so frustrating. But whether such a temptation is motivated by a noble desire to speed up the legislative process, or by pure political expedience, I believe such changes would be unwise.”
Sen. Dodd was right. At a time when communication occurs more and more through quick sound-bites and dashed-off “tweets,” it’s more important than ever to engage in true and civil debate. That means slowing down and, yes, delaying things from time to time. It means preserving the filibuster, no matter how much it may inconvenience those in power.