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It’s simple and as clear as ever - filibuster reform is the most crucial thing in American politics right now.

John Boehner has lost control of the House.  It's partially true that he never really had control. RedState is calling for his head.  The extreme right-wing conservatives are crowing about embarrassing him on his “Plan B”, the same “Plan B” that was all a gimmick and bargaining showpiece.  The same “Plan B” that already was under a veto threat and Harry Reid promised to never bring up in the Senate.
John Boehner, in the wake of his shameful defeat, has called on Congress to break with long-standing tradition (and a possible legal challenge) and for Harry Reid and the senate to negotiate a compromise, that I assume will be voted on in the house.

If the Senate is actually able to get something through with 60 votes, or demand an up or down on a generally democratic package (even if it has bullshit like the chained CPI in it) it sets a strong, important new precedent.  It also puts Nancy Pelosi in a significantly stronger bargaining position in the future.

If the deal can't get done, it's an even bigger argument for filibuster reform.  But I suspect that something will pass in the senate.

Either way, the filibuster must be reformed.  And Harry Reid, as majority leader, must follow his own precedent and start passing major legislation and dare the House not to vote on it.  If they don't vote on it, they will be the do-nothing congress.  If they do vote on it, and only a handful of Republicans (or even a sizable amount of Republicans) vote for Democratic legistlation, a serious campaign can be mounted against the arch-conservatives.

Finally, the Republican Party will have been fractured, and a right-center caucus will be set up against the far-right caucus.  Already we've seen this happen in the "influence peddler" organizations.  DeMint saw the writing on the wall and got the hell out of the Senate, where he knew his influence was waning.  Normally I would never praise the intellect of Jim DeMint, but in this case, I think it might be warranted.
But it’s what happens next that is the most interesting and potentially exciting.  Follow after the jump to find out.

I’m not going to throw out some nonsense about 11-dimensional chess or any of that.  I’m just pointing out what the possibility is, and the evidence that it is coming.

Taegan Goddard, linking to the paywalled WSJ, highlighted a big trial balloon the White House floated way back in late August – the campaign essentially wouldn’t end on Election Day.  

President Obama "has fundamentally shifted his view of modern presidential power" and "is now convinced the most essential part of his job, given politically divided Washington, is rallying public opinion to his side. As a result, if he wins a second term, Mr. Obama plans to remain in campaign mode."
And what would that look like?  We already have some more hints.  Most notably, Organizing for America's continued existence and the hagiographies being written about "the list".

Obama has already talked about how change comes from outside Washington, not inside it.  It was trumpeted by the right-wing echo chamber as a “gaffe”, but I think Obama really means it.  Make some addresses to the nation.  Make people pay attention.  Take the weekly youtube video and put it on TV, buy a DirecTV channel, think outside the box a little bit.  It’s a strategy that can work, and certainly will get people interested.  Journalists will eat it up, writing procedural stories, historical perspectives and various editorials about it on Sundays (and pontificating on the Sunday shows).  Republicans will whine and complain and make a lot of noise, but that really didn’t matter much in this last election, as I’m sure you remember.  

Obama could go out to states and give speeches on the major pieces of legislation, draw big crowds and make a lot of news.  They could do it in a full on blitz, like the first 100 days of FDR.  Or they could do it more slowly, over the course of two years.  The amount of basic policy that polls well in the country is staggering.  Gun Control, further Healthcare fixes, Immigration...the list goes on. What's crucial is the 2014 elections, and drawing a clear contrast between the two major parties.

After that...who knows?  It seems clear that what is needed is a big shift back to the left.  The Progressives should caucus more strongly together, and hold the line internally on major pieces of legislation after 2014.  Before then, it's most important to build the Democratic brand as the only one that actually has any idea how a country is supposed to be run.  After 2014, if the majority shifts, Progressives should be emboldened to run under the Progressive Party, a Working Families Party, or something like that.

But what about the supposedly Republican districts that cannot possibly be flipped (due to redistricting and such)?  Democrats ran a few tests this year, and won a few times and got very close at other times.  Allen West was defeated.  Michelle Bachmann was almost defeated.  Young, intelligent veterans, with unimpeachable credentials and progressive minds are coming of age and starting to enter the candidate pool.  More of them will run in two years.  Even more will run two years after that.

The capacity for real structural change to the institution of congress is within the grasp of the American people, and the Democrats in the Senate.  Now is the time to make your voice heard to your Democratic Senator.  Make sure they know that this is important.  Fill up their voicemails, flood their inboxes, make the fax machine run out of paper, fill up the office with mail - whatever you can think of.

Originally posted to The Aggressive Progressive on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 11:23 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.


It this wishful thinking or plausible?

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79%54 votes

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Comment Preferences

  •  GET RID of the filibuster. Completely. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    caul, alice kleeman, linkage

    The GOP will do so instantly if and when it ever takes over control of the Senate.

    Since there is no doubt whatsoever the GOP will use the "nuclear weapon" as soon as it is able to, the Democrats would be fools not to do it themselves, first.

    I am one of many millions who voted for Barack Obama, TWICE. I voted for him because I believed some of his proposals could be implemented (and personnel he wanted appointed approved).

    As long as the GOPBag party continues to use the filibuster as it now exists, this cannot happen.

    Take the weapon out of the infants' hands.


    •  It's not a "weapon" goddamit! (7+ / 0-)

      I hate this language of "going nuclear."  There is nothing violent about ending the filibuster. No one is going to die. No animals will be harmed in the making of this movie.

      It is a change in the rules, pure and simple.  Yes, it's a change in a rule that hasn't changed in a long time, but that's what congresses do-- they change rules.

      Personally I don't like the idea of completely eliminating the rights of the minority.  I like the ideas that Kos suggested-- bring back the talking filibuster, require 41 votes to continue debate on a matter.

      It's just rules, it's just rules.  

      There are a lot of great things about the US Constitution and one of the best is its ability to allow for change.  I think the framers expected that the constitution would be amended all of the time.  How could they have known that so many idiots would consider the constitution a sacred document, incapable of change, such that people could end a sentence with "it's protected by the constitution!"  

      So what it's protected by the constitution, asshole? We can change it!

      And the only thing protecting the filibuster is an insane belief that it is sacred.

      One man gathers what another man spills

      by John Chapman on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 10:27:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  it's not protected by the constitution (6+ / 0-)

        filibuster has nothing to do with the constitution.

        constitution assumes majority rule in the senate - otherwise why would it call for the VP to cast a tie-breaking vote?

        An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

        by mightymouse on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 10:48:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  In fact, it is explicitly ANTI-constitutional (7+ / 0-)

          The filibuster exists to prevent what the Senate would be able to do without delay or interference, if it operated STRICTLY by its constitutional provisions.

        •  True (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mightymouse, bfbenn

          I was going off on a tangent with the constitution thing.  

          I was also trying to make a point about the constitution. If the constitution means that every American is entitled to own a handgun and the state of California can't regulate ultra-violent video games, then we have to amend the constitution.

          One man gathers what another man spills

          by John Chapman on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 11:57:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Equal protection (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mightymouse, schuylkill

          I always thought the filibuster violated the principle of equal protection.  Why does some senator from Oklahoma have more power than my senator?  I'm quite upset about the power of committee chairs, which have the same problem.

          I was reading the other day about how some other governments are set up, and in the Scottish parliament, the committee chairs are required to run the committees in a non-partisan way.  They're just supposed to keep things moving, not dictate the agenda.  

          I'm still mad about Nixon.

          by J Orygun on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:20:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Abuse of power (0+ / 0-)

          The filibuster rules are an abuse of the power granted to each house of Congress to make its own rules.

          Normal business cannot be passed without 60 votes whenever any one Senator objects to a bill. The abuse of that privilege is now a danger to our country because the Senate cannot act on matters that need action.

          The filibuster may have been tolerable when it was used sparingly, but it's not tolerable in the way it is used now.

          Here's a diary by me about it: What does the filibuster teach our children?

          The filibuster is a crime against democracy.

          by schuylkill on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 08:03:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  The GOPbags have certainly used it as a weapon (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul, linkage

        So it needs to be ripped out of their hands once and for all.

      •  Actually, it's been less than 100 years since the (3+ / 0-)

        US Senate Rule #22 was instituted.

        Since 1917, to be exact:

        ... in 1917, senators adopted a rule (Rule 22), at the urging of President Woodrow Wilson, that allowed the Senate to end a debate with a two-thirds majority vote, a device known as "cloture."
        The 'filibuster' is not an actual US Senate action or rule, it is the process of (a single US Senator or many Senators) obstructing the workflow of the US Senate by continuous speech on the Floor of the US Senate, thereby bringing all other US Senate Floor actions to a halt.

        Rule #22 was instituted to allow for 2/3rds of the Senators who were present at the time to vote to end this "continuous speech" and allow a vote to take place.

        A modern modification (1975) changed that percentage to 3/5ths and made it (instead of those present at the time) apply to the entire Senate - meaning that every single time it would take 60 votes to support "cloture" and put an end to the continuous speech known as 'the filibuster'.

        "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization" -- me

        by Angie in WA State on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 12:41:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  they'll only do that if they have to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      otherwise they'll keep it around. it makes government less functional. which they like.

      it served them well 2009-2010. it might again.

      An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

      by mightymouse on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 10:45:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  They talk but they don't act. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    caul, linkage, J Orygun

    When the Majority becomes the Minority they don't want to give up power, despite the electoral mandate.

    These simple-minded people, the entire US Senate membership, can only be forced to Majority rule by pressure from the outside.

    Don't expect them to do the right thing on their own.  As each new Congress convenes they say the same threatening things but never carry them out.

    Elections must have consequences!

    If nothing gets done, just call the US Congress the most expensive exclusive membership welfare program in America.

    For information on the what is happening on this subject outside of the Senate, in the federal courts, go to:

    Filibuster Challenge Goes to Court

    Judge Emmet G. Sullivan (D.D.C.) heard oral arguments on Monday on the defendant's motion to dismiss in Common Cause v. Biden, the case challenging the Senate's filibuster rule.  We posted on the case back in May, when it was filed.  Roll Call summarized the arguments here.  Common Cause has a case resource page here.
    The oral arguments come in the midst of increasing talk of filibuster reform in the 113th Congress.  We covered the issues and linked to resources when there was similar talk at the beginning of the 112th Congress.

    *Austerity is the opposite of Prosperity*

    by josmndsn on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 09:35:41 AM PST

  •  Pundits are comparing the Tea Party (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, caul, linkage, J Orygun

    to the Whigs, but I think that is inaccurate.

    Yes, the Whigs found themselves on the wrong side of history and dissolved, but were generally not as radical as the "Know Nothing" party of nativists - and would look stunningly similar to the current GOP (at any leadership level).

    Not to mention the "Know Nothings" -would be a far more fitting modern day name for today's Republican radicals.

    If not us ... who? If not here ... where? If not now ... when?

    by RUNDOWN on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 10:13:10 AM PST

  •  They are back room dealing on the subject. (3+ / 0-)

    I don't expect Harry Reid to stand up and reform the filibuster in a significant way.

  •  For filibuster humor check George Will column (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maybeeso in michigan

    today. Harry Reid is EVIL! GOP only use filibuster because meanie Harry won't let them put endless amendments to bills. :(

    "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere ". C. S. Lewis

    by TofG on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 08:54:05 AM PST

  •  Will Feinstein support reforming the filibuster? (0+ / 0-)

    If her assault weapons bill is in jeopardy under the current rules, she may become a new supporter of filibuster reform. And if she turns, other fence sitters will follow.

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