"Power corrupts": The filibuster

Topics: Democracy
30 Apr 2005

From: Ervan Darnell

For those of you who think I lean Republican, their recent behavior on changing the filibuster, House ethics rules, and the Schiavo case offer a shockingly clear example of Acton's adage "power corrupts".

The Republican defense of changing the filibuster is at least as disingenuous as the Democrats' SS story. They are arguing that 'judges deserve an up or down vote because the majority should decide.' They don't believe that for a second, they understand perfectly well that such a vote means Bush gets his most extreme appointees nominated to the federal circuit courts. Were the situation reversed, I'm quite sure not a one of them would be in favor of it. The Dems are in the somewhat awkward position of arguing that the filibuster is some magic thing, and getting some traction, but mostly because people don't like Bush's nominees.

Whether or not the filibuster is a good idea, changing the rules in midstream is a bad idea. That's not about fixing process, that's about changing the rules to get a desired outcome. Given enough procedural switches and the ability to chose which ones get flipped, any outcome can be achieved. If the Republicans were really concerned about changing process, they could offer a bill that would change the filibuster rule starting in Feb 2008, when it would no longer be clear who would profit from it, but rather make it a pure process thing.

The double shame is that various compromises, where the Dems cave on some judges to avoid the filibuster change, have been floated and nearly accepted. That would be unfortunate. It would be tantamount to the cop threatening to plant the cocaine if you don't confess. The Reps would have succeeded in perverting the process to get the desired outcome.

Ervan Darnell
ervan@kelvinist.com http://www.kelvinist.com

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