For months, I have been calling for the complete elimination of the filibuster in the Senate. Many Open Left commenters have agreed upon the need and desirability for its elimination, but one question remains: is there any realistic hope of rounding up 51 Democratic Senators to actually destroy it?
I have been thinking about this for a while, and I do actually have a realistic action plan to make it happen. It contains four steps:
As soon as step for is achieved, the campaign will be won. This because a public commitment from seven Democratic Senators guarantees that the filibuster will be destroyed once Republicans retake the Senate, which will happen eventually.
- Build an activist base. The first step is to build a base of progressive activists who support eliminating the filibuster. This is done by making the case about how the filibuster prevents progressive governance in America.
- Public education campaign through calling bullshit. The next step is to use the activist base to engage in a public education campaign. This effort will be centered on calling "bullshit" whenever a member of Congress or the media claims that 60 votes are needed to pass legislation in the Senate. We use emails and phone calls to those pundits, reporters and members of Congress to make them admit that 60 votes are not actually needed, given the nuclear option.
- Get other progressive blogs and organizations to support the campaign. As the public education campaign continues, we work to gather endorsements to eliminating the filibuster from as many progressive organizations as possible.
- Get seven Democrats in the Senate to support eliminating the filibuster, even when Republicans are in the majority. The fourth and final step will be to gather public commitments from seven Democratic Senators to support the elimination of the filibuster through the nuclear option, even if the push to eliminate it comes when Republicans are in the majority.
Back in 2005, Republicans had up to 48 Senators in favor of destroying the filibuster for judicial nominees. In the end, they were only denied by the defection of seven Republicans who helped form "the Gang of 14." If we can secure seven Democratic Senators who support eliminating the filibuster, once they are in the majority, Republicans cannot be stopped by such a gang ever again. Hell, it is pretty unlikely that there would even be seven defecting Republicans Senators next time around, given that the party is in the midst of successfully purging any member of Congress with even a whiff of moderation about them.
Once we have seven Democratic Senators in support, they will collectively present a letter to the entire Democratic Senate caucus stating "either destroy the filibuster now, or see it destroyed when Republicans are in charge." At that point, I would hope that Democrats would respond by destroying the filibuster while they still have a majority. However, if we have to wait until Republicans are in charge, so be it. Either way, we can nuke it with only seven Democratic Senators in support.
So, that's how we win the campaign. It may very well require Republicans winning back the Senate, but over the long-term it is necessary for progressive governance.