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When you enter into a negotiation, you have to understand your bottom line position. That's the line you won't cross to make a deal, no matter what. But, as important as understanding your own position is, you also have to know what the other side's bottom line is.

This is far trickier. But, a skilled negotiator gathers as much intelligence and information about his negotiating partners as he can, and makes educated and logical guesses about where they ultimately stand.

If you do this basic analysis for the whole Filibuster showdown taking place in the U.S. Senate right now, the OBVIOUS thing for the Democrats to do is to kill the filibuster on Presidential nominees, right now. Don't wait. Why? Because there is absolutely no realistic downside to that strategy. For my reasoning, take the jump.

The first thing you have to do here is to lay out the possible scenarios in the simplest and most reasonable terms possible. And, then, analyze what those scenarios mean. For the Senate filibuster they are:

1. The Senate Democrats bluff their way to another conformation deal, and don't kill the filibuster.

2. The Senate Democrats are bluffing about killing the filibuster, and the Republicans call it. Thus, Harry Reid and the Democrats will have to back down.

3. The Senate Democrats are not bluffing about killing the filibuster, but are using their willingness to kill it as a strong bargaining chip to convince the GOP to back down on the confirmations. And, the GOP does back down.

4. The Senate Democrats are nit bluffing about killing the filibuster, but the Republicans think they are bluffing, or have their own incentive to force the Democrats to kill it first.

Its almost exactly like a Prisoners Dilemma decision quadrant chart.

Looking at these options, you immediately see why killing the filibuster now is in the Democrats interests. And, that there is little downside to it.

First, the Republicans have now demonstrated, repeatedly, that they are willing to abuse whatever political norms were being followed for the past 50 years in order to achieve their political ends. They've shut down the government and threatened default on our national debt (to take two prominent examples). But, GOP Governors and Legislatures all over the country have also been assaulting union rights, women's rights and even the right to vote.

So, why should the filibuster be sacred, when these other things are not? It is clear that the filibuster only will continue to exist so long as the GOP believes it is in their interests to keep it. And, of course, when they are in the minority in the Senate and a Democrat is in the White House, they have a huge incentive to keep it.

But, what happens if they take back the Senate and/or the White House? Clearly, all bets are off. The GOP has now begun to "govern" as a pure rear-guard political party. They are, in their minds, losing the demographic battle and will pull out all the stops to slow down the inevitable.

So, of course the GOP will kill the filibuster as soon as they can do so.

Given that, the ONLY reason why Democrats should hesitate about killing the filibuster has been removed from the equation. The belief that if they don't do it, the Republicans will also refrain from doing it. That's obviously a delusional belief at this point (notwithstanding some intelligent speculation otherwise).

And, more to the point, the longer the Democrats wait to kill the filibuster, the more damage to the Obama administration and the Courts the GOP can do through obstruction. So, it is absolutely in the Democrats' interests to kill the filibuster NOW, pack the federal courts with as many Obama appointees as humanly possible (to create a counterbalance in the federal courts in case the GOP does manage to take back Congress and the White House), and gain as much advantage from the filibuster's elimination as possible, even it if only for a short term window.

The alternative is....doing nothing, watch the GOP grind all meaningful activity to a halt, leave huge voids in our federal courts for some future GOP President to fill, and then see the GOP kill the filibuster anyway.

The ideal scenario would be for the GOP to back down and stop using the filibuster. But, they said that the last time and went back on their deal. So, their word means nothing. There is nothing to ensure they won't do it again. So, pull the band-aid off that scab and kill the filibuster, dead. Kill it. It deserves to die. It's time.

10:37 AM PT: It just occurred to me, and I should have pointed this out in the diary earlier, that the Republicans have an incentive to keep using the filibuster, but con the Demovcrats into not using the nuclear option to kill it for as long as possible.

So, it is 100% in the interests of Senate Republicans to PRETEND that they want to save the filibuster, and that they would only kill it if the Democrats do it first. That way, they get the bets of both worlds. They get to keep on blocking Obama's agenda, and still preserve the filibuster while in the minority. But, if they ever gain control, they can kill it at their leisure.

So, this just reinforces my whole point: The Democrats are stupid not to kill the filibuster now and pack the Courts with Obama nominees.

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Comment Preferences

  •  There is a downside (4+ / 0-)

    in that it gives the GOP political ammunition to claim "power grab" and "dictatorship" and somesuch.

    But compared to the upside, that's very, very minor.

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:28:59 AM PST

  •  How about this: (3+ / 0-)

    Kill the filibuster and proceed to actualize Obama's agenda which makes voters happy, which produces a wave in 2014 that gives the Dems a filibuster proof majority in the Senate and veto override majority in the house, whereupon they vote to reinstate the filibuster.
    Like gaining position under a yellow flag.
    As long as the Hastert Rule is still up, there is no tactic too ruthless for the Dems to use. (Well, maybe: Having the Sgt at Arms detain members off the floor in order to pass crucial votes might be a little too far. Ditto, locking the TeaBag Caucus into a hearing room....)

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:36:14 AM PST

    •  Well, without the House (0+ / 0-)

      they can't "proceed to actualize Obama's agenda."  But they can get the courts and other nominations confirmed.

      They only downside I see is for Treaty confirmation. That takes 2/3 of the Senate, so it takes GOP votes. If we get a nuke deal with Iran, the GOPers won't ratify. Of course, they won't anyway.

      "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

      by SouthernLeveller on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 06:13:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Downside is a Rise In Expectations for Them (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Johnny Q, quill

    to confirm progressive nominees and if filibusters are reduced for legislation, to pass progressive law.

    We shouldn't imagine that the Dems have allowed years of unprecedented filibuster because of mass stupidity.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:37:20 AM PST

  •  A commentator on a televison (0+ / 0-)

    segment said that for the most part the Democrats are shying away from killing the filibuster because that door swings both ways and if the republicans gain control the Democrats would suffer because of it.

    A comparison of the total effect of not stopping the abuse and allowing it to happen because they might want to use it themselves in the future is clear.  The Democrats will indeed need it because they're proving that they are ineffective and will lose their power as a result.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:41:41 AM PST

  •  I can sympathize with the old-school Dems who... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ahumbleopinion, boadicea

    pine for the good old days of Senate comity, and who view eliminating the filibuster as destroying the institution as they knew it, but they have to realize, those days are over. The Republicans already killed the old Senate they're pining for. It's time to face reality and respond appropriately.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:53:26 AM PST

  •  Given the way the GOP has acted in the last (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hesiod, ARS

    several years, anyone who believes they would not do away with the filibuster if they regain control of the Senate is not paying attention.  

    They have gained control of blue/swing states then completely shut out anyone who disagrees with them from consideration as they ram through their right wing agenda.  Washington will be no different from WI or NC if they manage to get control of Congress and the presidency.

    I still expect them to pass laws that will apportion electoral votes in blue/swing states to reflect their gerrymandered districts.

    “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

    by ahumbleopinion on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:02:16 AM PST

  •  You are 100% right (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    voteearly, Hesiod, VeggiElaine

    There is no doubt in my mind that the first thing the Republicans will do if they ever retake the Senate is kill the filibuster.  Given that, there is no reason not to kill it now, so Obama can accomplish something in the next three years.

    "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

    by RenMin on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:08:24 AM PST

  •  Dom Blanco reported Crows' GRowing from his Face (0+ / 0-)

    Our need, as charter members of the Reality Based Community, is to flip the noise into an effective collective response.

    I thought we needed to overthrow the filibuster in the battles of 1978, but nobody of any consequence was in a political spot to listen to a dirty forkin' hippie like me.

    Dom Baucus used his reputation to flip the ACA and destroy both single payer and the public option.  Which I accept, as an expedient, for the greater good.

    But this moronic idea that "a sixty vote majority, up or down" is the essence of democracy is destructive of democracy as it has always been understood.

    The moment you pick up the clay you become a demiurge, and he who embarks on the creation of worlds is already tainted with corruption and evil. (-8.7,-9.3)

    by Dom Segundo on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 11:20:36 AM PST

  •  There hasn't been a downside for a long (0+ / 0-)

    time now.

    The Filibuster is an important prop used by Reid & the Democrats as part of their act at the Kabuki Theater of the Absurd.

    The Filibuster stops progressive policies, oddly, it doesn't seem capable of stopping the R's (Bush's Tax Cuts, Patriot Act, Iraqi Authorization, SC nominees, etc..).

    It's intentional.

    And the Democrats (nor Republicans) will ever allow the Filibuster to be removed.  It's one of the most valuable "bi-partisan" tools.

    From time to time, Reid, the D's, and the R's will engage in some fierce public wrestling matches, angry rhetoric / counter-rhetoric, Reid & the D's will vow to "reform" the Filibuster, more rhetoric.. then everyone goes their separate ways.

    And on the rare off-chance they actually "reform" it?  What will that look like?

    It will only apply to lower level appointments.  Not legislation.  Not SC nominees.

    In essence, it will do nothing material.

    It's a faux wrestling match, nothing more.

    The 1% are Purists: They only support Candidates that Deliver Results They Can Bank On. Don't they know they should compromise? /sarcasm

    by Johnathan Ivan on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:14:38 PM PST

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