Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Pull the Friggin Trigger Already!

Today the Senate is debating the so-called Nuclear Option (more appropriately called the constitutional Option). Harry Reid had some very nice words to say about the "time-honored tradition" of the filibuster. It would have been a very nice speech if it was even slightly accurate.

Oh mind you, the content of his speech was factually accurate. The conclusions where wholly inaccurate. Senator Reid recounted the illustrious history of the filibuster, describing how it was used to encourage social change within the United States. Ironic that, since the filibuster has never been used to block judicial nominations. And the present use of the filibuster by the democrats to block progress in the senate.

After that, Senator Reid spoke eloquently about how Washington and Jefferson described the function of the Senate. I am paraphrasing Reid as he quoted Washignton and Jefferson;

Jefferson asked Washington, "What is the function of the Senate?"

Washington replied "Why do you pour your coffee into a saucer?"

Jefferson said "To let the coffee cool down."

Washington answered "That is the function of the Senate, to cool the government down."

Reid's interpretation of this statement is that the senate is supposed to cool off the majority, not allow them to pass their agenda wholesale. What Senator Reid is ignoring is the fact that the Senate was originally designed to represent the state's interests in the Congress. The House of Representatives has always been elected by the citizens of the U.S. The number of representatives a state has is proportional to its population. Thus, the House represents the interests of the "common man" in the federal government. The Senators on the other hand were originally appointed by the govener of the state and each state was allowed two Senators. The senate then, was to function as a rational side to "cool down" the populist side which could be swayed much more easily by public opinion rather than "cool down" majority rule.

Finally, Senator Reid completely ignored the fact that the filibuster is not in danger. With all his talk of the damage that would be done to our system of government if the constitutional option were invoked, he never mentioned that the option would not affect the filibuster. The change that the republicans are suggesting would only occur for judicial nominees. The filibuster would remain, more or less intact. Specifically, the senate would change the rules for over riding a filibuster during a judicial nomination.

When a senator begins a filibuster, the filibuster can be ended if 2/3 of the senate vote to stop it. For judicial nominations, the rule would be modified. If a senator invoked a filibuster, a vote would be taken to end the filibuster, requiring a 2/3 majority. If that failed, a second vote would be taken requiring only a 1/2 majority. Thus, if more than half the senate supported the filibuster, it would continue. And filibusters during voting on for a bill would be unaffected.

It is time for the republican majority in congress to get off their collective asses and represent us. We, the people, elected them to pursue an agenda, not the agenda of the democratic party. If the democrats persist in stone walling that agenda, then they risk becoming more marginalized.