BREAKING: Democrats Hoping To Take Control Of Congress From Republican Minority In 2010 #p2 #tcot
The Onion tweeted that back in September, and it remains funny because it remains true. With the 60-vote culture of the Senate, Democrats did not actually take control of the chamber until September 25th, when Robert Byrd was released from the hospital and Paul Kirk was sworn in. September 25th was the first day when Democrats had 60 functioning members of their Senate caucus.
The chances of Democrats maintaining 60 members of their caucus after 2010 are virtually zero. Democrats are defending seven of the ten Senate seats where the incumbent party is either losing or tied, and are defending all three of the Senate seats (Colorado, Nevada and North Dakota) where the incumbent party is facing near-certain defeat. To maintain 60, Democrats need to win all seven of the following "toss-up" campaigns: Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania. That is a very, very tall order.
Still, there is a simple way that Democrats could net ten Senate seats right now, which would all but guarantee that Democrats actually have a stronger Senate majority in 2011 than they had in 2009: eliminate the filibuster. If only 50 votes plus Vice President Biden are required to pass legislation in the Senate, then even the (currently realistic) worst-case scenario of a 53-47 Democratic majority in 2011 is three seats better than the current 60-40 majority.
Quick rebuttals to common arguments in favor of keeping the filibuster:
Democrats eliminating it would be hypocritical. Maybe, but no more hypocritical than Republicans. The GOP tried to eliminate it, and then proceeded to overuse it when they failed to do so.
But really, neither Democrats nor Republicans are being hypocritical. The filibuster is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. Democrats opposed eliminating the filibuster because it would allow Republicans to pass more legislation, and would eliminate it in order to pass more legislation themselves. Republicans favored eliminating the filibuster to confirm more nominees, and would oppose eliminating it to prevent Democrats passing more legislation. In both cases, both parties would be perfectly consistently in their desire to see nominees and legislation more favorable to their ideological viewpoints pass.
It isn't going to happen. Maybe, but then why should I give a shit about Senate elections anymore? The current incarnation of the 60-vote Senate effectively makes Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, and a couple other Senators de facto President. These Senators can lie about their positions on important legislation, and not face any repercussions from their colleagues. If the Democratic Senate caucus has no problem handing over all congressional power to a handful of bad faith Senators, then why the fuck should any Democrat care about any Congressional election at all?
So, maybe we can tell every Democratic member of Congress to dump the filibuster, or don't expect any help from us in 2010 and beyond.
It is good to have a deliberative" branch of Congress. Not sure if this is mainly stupid, offensive, or both. "Deliberation" is not more important than democracy, and the Senate should not be more powerful than the House.
but then Republicans could pass whatever legislation they want when they regian control in D.C. So what. Apart from John Bolton and the three judges who went down, back when Republicans were in charge there wasn't a single major legislation or a single major nominee that passed through Congressional committee and then failed cloture due to a Democratic filibuster. Republicans even passed pretty much whatever they wanted when Democrats controlled Congress, and Bush was still President.
Two months ago, I outlined some quick thoughts on how to destroy the filibuster. If you have ideas on how to pull this off, please post them in the comments.