Kill the filibuster before it destroys democracy

Republicans need to put this weapon down

POWER DAILY – Minority rule is not sustainable in a modern democracy

We saved ourselves from Donald Trump so far, but are we safe from the Republican Party?

Beyond the ongoing GOP “civil war,” the internal battle for control of the party between Trump and Mitch McConnell, we need to understand something fundamental: today’s GOP is an anti-democratic party.

Republicans will literally undermine democracy to stay in power. Their strategy is straight forward: keep Democrats from governing in spite of winning broad majorities.

Donald Trump is not singularly responsible for this creeping authoritarianism. He merely exploited it. Fact is, Republicans have lost the popular vote in the last 7 of 8 national elections. This is not a secret, obviously, and it is fully understood by the whole GOP leadership.

Yet, the GOP is determined to rule the country with an increasingly exhausted ideology, a shallow set of ideas from the apogee of Ronald Reagan in the last century, that is just not that popular.

And normally, losing the support of the majority of citizens over multiple elections is not a winning formula in a democracy. Except that the GOP has been more than comfortable governing through the US Constitution’s multiple anti-democratic structures. No shame for them when wielding power (a lesson Democrats should learn.)

The U.S. Senate is the canary in the coal mine of this worrisome trend. For example, Wyoming has a population of around 580,000 and California about 39,600,000 people. Under the Constitution, both states have exactly the same number of Senators. Have you ever heard a bit of modesty from a senator from that great (little) state? They act as if they have the Mandate of Heaven as they stomp all over Democratic initiatives.

The Electoral College is another example. Al Gore famously “won” the 2000 election by 500,000 votes, until he didn’t. Donald Trump ended up dragging his slippers at the White House after losing the popular vote in 2016 by 2.9 million votes. Trump topped that sorry record, of course, by losing last year by over 7 million votes - and still claimed a victory.

Another aspect of this slouching towards dictatorship, Donald Trump and his gang tried to sabotage the Census. As part of the decennial process of adjusting congressional representation and determining Federal resources for things like education and infrastructure, Trump tried to drop non-citizens from the rolls.

This soft coup attempt clashed with 244 years of American history. Its purpose simple: augment the relative power of low immigration states (read Red state) relative to big Blue states with significant minority populations.

This was a naked power play to artificially bolster GOP power.

Which brings us to the most egregious use of minority rule by Republicans: the Filibuster in the Senate. It was through the Filibuster that much of President Obama’s program died at the hands of Republicans.

There, Mitch McConnell, who stated his big goal in 2009 was to make Obama a one term president, used the supermajority requirement of the Filibuster to frame Obama a “failed” president who could not deliver for voters and therefore unworthy of a second term.

Now Republicans will argue that the filibuster is an essential part of the democratic process as it protects the minority from an overreaching majority, supposedly creating incentives for negotiation.

This claim would also be a lie.

Republicans’ major legislative achievement during the Trump era was the massive tax giveaway to the richest people and biggest corporations. It was passed using a procedure that does not require a supermajority - reconciliation. Trump and McConnell simply froze out the Democrats to achieve a partisan outcome that did not have majority support in the country.

To be clear, when these “minority protections” actually protect Democrats in the minority, Republicans happily roll right over them and pass huge legislation with a simple majority, partisan vote.

Now, over the next few of weeks you’ll hear Republicans whining about the reconciliation process as Democrats seek to quickly pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid rescue package. They will, in bad faith, claim that Biden is breaking his pledge to seek bipartisanship.

Again, this is a lie.

There’s nothing keeping Republicans from supporting this bill. Moreover, they’ve had ample opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions. Unfortunately, the most substantive contribution was from the GOP “moderates” who offered to slash the package down significantly, to the point of not actually addressing the economic emergency.

It seems, you see, that after four years of Republicans in Congress funding Donald Trump’s spending sprees, they’ve rediscovered that they’re the party of budget discipline. Please.

The filibuster is a relic. It stands in the way of real progress, rewards hyper partisanship and creates logjams in Congress. It’s a source of frustration and obstruction.

The US Constitution does not provide for a filibuster. There’s no long-time link to the English parliament or other historical significance to it - other than its heritage as a devastating tool to stop civil rights legislation in the country.

And more recently, it has become the preferred mechanism for Republicans to try to break Democratic presidents.

The Filibuster must go now.

VERDICT – Unless the democratic system responds appropriately to the threat of minority rule, you can bet that Republicans will have no incentive to revolutionize their political platform to attract a majority of voters at the ballot box. Going down this dangerous path, expect that the GOP will grow ever more radicalized.

POWER VIDEO: As we face the wrenching milestone of 500,000 dead from Covid, Dr. Anthony Fauci shares his vision for the path forward.

POWER TWEET – The proven effectiveness of the vaccine coupled with trillions of dollars sitting on the sidelines of the economy, are signaling an economic boom on the horizon:

POWER READ 1 – Over the next few months, expect that Trump’s legal jeopardy will snowball into an avalanche of serious problems.  In The Washington Post:

Impeachment is over. But other efforts to reckon with Trump’s post-election chaos have just begun.

“Although Trump was acquitted by the Senate on a charge that his rhetoric incited the deadly Capitol siege, public officials and private companies are pursuing a multi-front legal effort to hold him and his allies accountable in other ways. The actions target the former president and numerous others — including elected ­officials, media pundits and lawyers — who indulged and echoed his falsehoods that President Biden did not win the election.

“The goal, according to lawyers and others supportive of such efforts, is to mete out some form of punishment for those who helped undermine confidence in the election results and fueled the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. But even more, they said, they hope to discourage other public officials from rerunning Trump’s strategy of attempting to overturn an election result by sowing doubt about the legitimacy of the vote.”

POWER READ 2 – The Covid math looks very promising – there’s been a steady reduction in cases over the last few weeks. And even though it’s way too early to think in terms of victory over the pandemic, it sure does look like were getting to the end of this nightmare. From CNN:

Officials are hopeful the US is getting closer to the end of the pandemic. But there are road bumps ahead

 “As the US prepares to hit a devastating new milestone -- half a million Covid-19 deaths -- officials say the country is also edging closer to the end of its brutal battle against the virus…

"Managing the epidemic in the next four months depends critically on scaling up vaccination, trying to increase the fraction of adults willing to be vaccinated above three-quarters, and strongly encouraging continued mask use and avoiding situations where transmission is likely, such as indoor dining, going to bars, or indoor gatherings with individuals outside the household," the team wrote in a briefing.

“The American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and the American Nurses Association also all urged continued vigilance against the virus.”

POWER QUOTE – Leave it to Winston Churchill to point out the philosophical link between Russian communists and Donald Trump:

“The Russian Bolsheviks have discovered that truth does not matter so long as there is reiteration. They have no difficulty whatever in countering a fact by a lie which, if repeated often enough and loudly enough, becomes accepted by the people.” - Winston Churchill