(originally published August 1, 2017
2017 has felt like a collaboration between movie makers David Lynch, the Coen Brothers, and now, after McCain’s dramatic “no”— Frank Capra.
Not too long after this vote the United States Antagonist-in-Chief, I mean President Trump, unleashed a series of tweets about the filibuster and how Senate rules should be changed to only require a simple majority, as opposed to the current 60 required to pass most legislation.
Of course the healthcare repeal vote (as will tax “reform”) was taken under budget reconciliation rules which only requires 50 votes and it still failed. Never mind that, because the big breaking news in this column is that I AGREE WITH DONALD TRUMP – END THE FILIBUSTER!!!.
To be clear, we agree for very different reasons, so let me explain. In the romanticized accounts of our nation’s founders, the Senate acts as the “cooling saucer,” where passions are tempered. However more often it takes a good thing everyone likes (hot tea) and lets it become something you dump down the drain (old, room temperature tea).
A longer range view was to take hold through staggered and longer terms (six years in the Senate as opposed to two years in the House) with the hope that Senators would have institutuonal memory, and be insulated from immediate political interests. The idea was the Senate would be the grown ups. The grafting on of the filibuster is, however, not a constitutional check on power but a Senate rule that is used to empower individual senators and not to protect the nation from a fit of madness.
Repealing Obamacare is neither good for the country nor popular. The Republican party is now largely based on lies and scapegoats such as the “liberal media” or, somehow still blaming Hillary and Obama for something or other.
The filibuster allows legislators to hide behind a false lack of power. As the healthcare debate has shown, when people organize and make their voices heard, a master tactician and legislator such as Senator Mitch McConnell can be stopped with the bonus that 49 senators are forced to be on the record with a vote in favor of taking away healthcare from millions. I don’t write political ads but I’d say working off that has a good ring for 2018 midterms.
If the repeal bill had required 60 vote, with today’s number it would have never come to a vote, and the repealers would not have had to go on record. I say we should have a Senate that requires only 50 votes because if votes like this keep coming we will soon have a Majority Leader from Brooklyn.
Michael Racioppo is the Executive Director of the Gowanus Canal CDC and the Vice Chairman of Community Board 6