Saturday, May 21, 2005

Nuclear option?

I want to know just who the hell coined the phrase "nuclear option" when describing the idea that Senate rules could be changed to eliminate filibusters for judicial appointments. It isn't like it has been of vital importance in our history. In fact, it has never been used before. No party has ever filibustered appointments that have made it out of committee. That the Democrats are threatening to use that tool disappoints me. They are trying to make an issue that according to The Constitution takes only a majority vote into an issue that requires a super-majority.

That leads me to ask who the hell started with the rhetoric that eliminating Senate filibuster for judicial appointees was a constitutional issue. Nowhere is the concept of the filibuster mentioned in The Constitution. Filibuster exists only in the Senate rules of procedure. In fact, it was sanctified not by the Senators themselves, but by a Vice President who took it upon himself to make the rule by decree when the corrupt U.S. Grant administration began to lose it's congressional majority. Once the Republican Party lost the Senate, the Vice President used his position as President of the Senate to sanctify the filibuster. This allowed the minority party to obstruct the majority Democrats but again, it has never been used ever in history to block a judicial appointment.

I favor complete elimination of the Senate filibuster rule, not just for appointments but for everything. When the people of this country elect a majority party to Congress, they expect that party's agenda to be passed, for better or for worse. The filibuster, for all practical purposes, can be used for anything coming before the Senate and can eliminate the concept of a simple majority vote and turn everything into a super-majority. It is the existence of the filibuster, not the elimination of it, that goes against The Constitution.

The "nuclear option" term is clearly designed to intentionally inflame people and possibly scare them. The idea that the filibuster rule is some kind of constitutional check or balance is a fabrication. So here we have cases of both hype and flat out lying by the opposition party.

There is an even more important issue here. That is the power of third parties. By removing the filibuster, politicians belonging to small parties with few seats have more power because their one or two seats might be enough to swing a majority vote in a lot more cases than they would be able to influence a super-majority. At least with the nearly evenly divided congress we have seen over the past couple of decades.

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