March 4, 2019

Knock Knock. Who's There? Aggressive Progressives

Aggressive progressives who?

Aggressive progressives who are so full of themselves they're apparently willing to sacrifice everything, even as they admit it will likely hurt them in the future.

Huh, you say? What's this all about?

Well, according to this report from NPR's Scott Detrow, the outer-lefties are suggesting getting rid of the filibuster in the US Senate, and moving to a simple 51-vote majority to pass legislation.  Here's how Detrow sets the stage:
Most of the Democrats running for president want to create a national single-payer health care system. They want to begin a massive transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. They want to legalize marijuana pass broad family leave policies, and do a whole lot of other things that previous generations of presidential candidates have balked from fully endorsing.
Those are all good things, if you're a fan of that agenda - so why might there be a problem? Well, the aggressive progressives want to see an end to the filibuster, so that the agenda can be pushed through - assuming that the Dems take control of the Senate in the 2020 election.  Here's Ezra Levin, co-founder of the Indivisible Project.
In order to actually pass a big, bold pro-democracy package, or a big, bold climate package, or a health care package, we're going to need to be able to do that with 51 votes. 
What's that old saying about ignoring or forgetting history and then being doomed to repeat it?  Or maybe the one about things that go around also come back around? Maybe that one would make sense here, too.

Back in 2013, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) got rid of the filibuster on judges for the lower courts and on executive appointments.  And, of course when the Dems lost the Senate, new Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court Justices. The two most recent justices, Neil Gorsuch (54-45) and Brett Kavanaugh (50-48) both benefited from this change.

Having most legislation require 60 votes to pass is the last bastion of hope for members of the minority and the people who elected them  - and it's something that the Dems should think many times more than twice about getting rid of should they retake the Senate any time soon, no matter what their most vocal allies say. Here's Levin again:
We know that the Republicans will utilize every tool available to them to prevent these kinds of big reforms getting done. They've done it before. They did it during the entirety of the Obama administration.
So far, most of the Senate Dems who have entered the 2020 race or who are considering it are on the 'no' side of the ledger, with one notable exception - Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who said that
If the Republicans are going to try and block us on key pieces that we're trying to move forward, then you better believe we've got to keep all options on the table. 
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker said he'd "personally resist" moves to get rid of it, while Kamala Harris, of California, said she can see "arguments on both sides" but is "conflicted." Others, including Ohio's Sherrod Brown and Minnesota's Amy Klobuchar, both supported keeping the filibuster in the past, as recently as 2017.

Instead of making eliminating the filibuster a priority, maybe the aggressive progressives should pay attention to what Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said about this:
If you're not able to get 60 votes on something, it just means you haven't worked hard enough...
I don't always agree with my senator, but on this issue, I surely do. And if they don't want to listen to her any more than I normally do, maybe they'll listen to Delaware's Senator Chris Coons.
It's a terrible idea. Democrats would reap the whirlwind almost immediately. It is the last bulwark of the rights of the minority in the Senate. If a simple majority could carry the day, we'd have a right-to-work law signed into law by president Trump  - I could give you a list of 20 things that president Trump would have signed into law in his first few weeks that would either repeal anything positive thing that President Obama did or anything that a progressive Democrat would hope to do in the future.
But Levin, who has not been elected by anyone, doesn't seem to care.
Look, Democracy is the theory that people know what they want, and they deserve to get it. And I don't think as a pro-democracy progressive we can afford to be scared of the will of the people. 
So, if they won't listen to Gillibrand, and they won't listen to Booker or Coons, maybe they'll listen to Levin's words: "the people know what they want, and they deserve to get it."

And unless there's some miracle that ends up with a blue tsunami or a red tide in the Senate, we're going to continue to see a small majority for one party or the other -- and all voters deserve to get what they want, including the people in the minority.

The fact that the minority might continue to be blue, or will inevitably turn blue, is reason enough not to make this silly move.

To kill the filibuster is ridiculous, and this should not be a litmus test for 2020.


  1. I like the idea od the super majority. Ought to be applied everywhere: I think the Federal government shouldn't spend $$ on anything with less than an 80% popular approval rating. Ha ha, I know I'm dreaming...

    1. How cool would that be?! Look at how they just passed the natural resources bill, with massive bipartisan support in both houses (maybe 70 out of 535 voted no?), because they worked at it and found compromises they could live with. Neither party got exactly what they wanted, but we the people benefited from their diligence and hard work. I want more of that, much more, not less.