“What we really need is an anti-bullying ordinance in the Senate,” Paul told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday, referring to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “I mean, now we’ve got a big bully. Harry Reid says he’s just gonna break the rules and make new rules.”It's easy to understand why Rand Paul is upset. After all, the only Senate he's ever known has been a Senate in which Republicans were bullies capable of vetoing anything they wanted to veto—despite the fact that they have never held a majority of seats in the Senate during his time in office.
“He’s gotta have everything his way, he’s gotta control everything. This is more about them trying to control the agenda and shift it away from Obamacare than it is about anything else,” Paul added. “Basically he’s become the dictator of the Senate. He’s going to bend and break the rules to get his way.”
But now that winning a vote on presidential nominations requires a simple majority instead of three-fifths, Paul no longer enjoys the same power to veto the will of the majority. I suppose you can call that "trampling minority rights" if you want to be overwrought and dramatic, but this has nothing to do with dictatorship.
Despite Paul's claims otherwise, Harry Reid did not obtain dictatorial powers. He's still one vote of one hundred in the Senate, and his power depends entirely on the power of persuasion. Reid didn't somehow grab ahold of the power to make nominations—that still belongs to the president. The Constitution is entirely intact.
The only thing that's changed is that the veto power of the minority has been eliminated on all nominations below the Supreme Court level. And contrary to Paul's hypochondria, I'd bet my bottom dollar that over time, this is a decision that will lead to more input from the minority party, not less—even if it is extended to legislation, as it eventually probably will. Before the rule change, the minority party had a strong incentive to simply say no in order to wield influence. Now, however, if they want influence, they need to find ways to work with the majority. And although Paul seems incapable of conceiving not a world in which the majority would work with a minority partner, history shows that cooperation is much more common than Paul's vision of hyperpartisan conflict.
Ultimately, Paul's real problem is that the America of today is no longer the America that existed a century ago. Filibuster or not, that America is never coming back.