Opinion

I Once Wrote An Op-Ed Calling For An End To The Filibuster. Here’s Why I Was Wrong.

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Posted: Oct 03, 2020 12:01 AM
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I Once Wrote An Op-Ed Calling For An End To The Filibuster. Here’s Why I Was Wrong.

Source: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

In April 2017, three months into the Trump presidency when it became blatantly obvious that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the “resistance” was going to use the filibuster to nix every possible administrative initiative regardless of merit, I wrote an op-ed for the Daily Caller titled, “The Filibuster Serves No Purpose In Today’s Divided Age.” In it, I argued that, since 1975 when the rules were changed to allow for so-called endless “virtual filibusters” to take the place of the ones where senators had to actually stand there and earn their delays by the sweat of their brows (and bladders), the practice had simply become a tool of the minority to impede and ultimately kill potentially good legislation based on politics alone. 

At the time, it seemed cut and dry. Eliminate the filibuster and we could run over intransigent Democrats, abolish and replace Obamacare, then move on like a kid in a candy store to virtually anything on the conservative wish list. It seemed logical, if not blindingly obvious. Too many good ideas were getting sunk simply because they lacked bipartisan support, and the concept of “RESIST Bad Orange Man at all costs” seemed to preclude any and all productive legislation so long as the president supported it. To those on the right, like Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith, who supported ending the filibuster then, the logic went that there IS an election every two years. If the Democrats win and introduce legislation that doesn’t work or proves unpopular, Americans can vote to reverse things and give the other side a shot. Passing bills and allowing them to work, after all, would seem like the best way to find out what DOES work. In that way, the will of the people would always be manifested.

But as things turned out, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would have none of it. Though he eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court justices and even used the budget reconciliation loophole to pass the tax bill, he and most other GOP senators declined to even consider nixing the filibuster for normal legislation. I was frustrated with him at the time, livid even, but looking back on it now, it seems clear that I was wrong. 

Now, it’s going to be easy to accuse me of hypocrisy and jump to the conclusion that I’m admitting my error simply because the shoe is on the other foot now, and I wouldn’t entirely blame you. In my defense, Chuck Schumer would have raised holy hell in 2017 if McConnell had even hinted at the possibility, yet he’s all for the notion now. Yet, for conservatives in this moment, it’s far more complicated than that. In 2017, I fully expected that there would come a day when Republicans didn’t control the Senate and White House. I fully expected that Democrats would be able to ram through bills at some point. So my feelings right now aren’t just sour grapes at the prospect of conservatives actually losing power. No, they are in fact borne out of possibilities I hadn’t dreamed of only four years ago.

Again, the theory went that while the GOP may lose power to Democrats for a time, the sheer unworkability of Democratic policies, especially if allowed to be implemented via legislation, would actually give Republicans a better chance of taking back over rather quickly. However, what if Democrats could implement structural changes to the American political system that would ensure their power not just over the next term, but forever? In his eye-opening Washington Post op-ed last month titled, “A vote for Biden is a vote for a one-party state,” columnist Marc Thiessen lays out how Democrats likely plan to “use their unchecked power not just to ram through their agenda, but also to pack the courts, pack the Senate, pack the House and pack the electoral college.” It’s a great, if horrifying read, and it’ll make you consider your vote carefully even if you hate everything about Donald Trump the person and think Joe Biden’s a nice guy.

It’s an all-too-possible dystopian universe that would change America permanently forever, and it all starts with the filibuster. Rid the Senate of that, and aside from the valid issues about changing the collegial, deliberative body into a de facto version of the majority-rule House, Democrats will not only be able to easily pass every single bill the left could conceive of, from climate change to gun control (confiscation?) to immigration to sky-high taxes, they’ll also be able to set the Supreme Court at, say, 13 justices (15? 17?), then proceed to install four Marxists to help Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer deem it all “Constitutional.”

But it wouldn’t stop there, not by a long shot. Simply making Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. states would ensure four new Democratic senators, thus making it virtually impossible for the GOP to hold a Senate majority ever again. Not to mention the countless illegal immigrants they want to make citizens and the hordes of third world immigrants they want to bring and make citizens, all to solidify their base. And it could all be done, absent the filibuster, by simple majorities in both the House and the Senate. Why work with Republicans on anything when you can pass everything yourself?

Sure, these possibilities have always existed, but I and likely millions of others hadn’t even considered many of them years ago because, despite our differences, there has always generally been a set, agreed-upon playing field with the rules only carefully changed with input from all sides - like nine Supreme Court justices, 50 states (Alaska and Hawaii, remember, came as a package deal because of Senate balance), 100 senators, and the electoral college. Make no mistake, Democrats aim to scrap the system and start from scratch. What’s coming, if we allow it to happen, is a gargantuan power grab on the scale of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Sadly, it’s hard to see the U.S. holding together over the long haul with the wishes of the minority so easily tossed aside. And it’ll all start when Democrats eliminate the Senate filibuster.

Follow Scott on Twitter @SKMorefield, Parler @smorefield.