Our Founding Fathers established the Senate as a counter-weight to the House. Larger states get more representation in the House. The majority party calls ALL the shots in the House. ALL of them. To address the concerns of smaller states, representation was equally assigned to all of the states in the Union. Every state got TWO.
In the House, if you disagree with the majority, you are relegated to the sidelines. Your opinion matters little. In the Senate, the idea was to give the little guys a chance to stand up to the big boys in the majority. One senator in Rhode Island has as much say as a senator from California. A senator does not depend as much on his party leadership as a House member does.
The filibuster came to fruition in the Senate in 1806. The first filibuster occurred in 1837 in the debate over chartering The Second National Bank.
In 1917, the concept of cloture — a process to end debate — came into fruition as a result of Woodrow Wilson’s frustrations with anti-war senators.
Until recently, filibusters involved someone talking non-stop in order to halt progress on legislation. Nowadays, a filibuster is a procedural move that doesn’t involve nearly the effort exercised by Strom Thurmond or by Jimmy Stewart’s Mister Smith.
During the Reagan and both Bush administrations, Democrats in the Congress regularly held up and killed all kinds of appointments by those presidents. Republicans regularly allowed Democrats like Bill Clinton to get their appointments approved, but Democrats rarely returned the favor.
In 2005, the Republican Senate majority decided they’d had enough and threatened the nuclear option — allowing appointments to be approved by a simple majority vote. Democrats — including Nevada senator Harry Reid and rookie Illinois senator Barry Obama — cried foul, citing tradition and the rights of minorities and all that.
Republicans backed off — citing the good ol’ Golden Rule. You know, the Democrats will be in the majority again. Do we want them doing this to us?
Well, they’re in the majority AND they’re doing it to YOU. Yesterday, the Senate rammed through a rules change basically decimating the whole concept of the filibuster. It was basically a party line vote with Democrats Manchin (W. Va), Pryor (Ark) and Levin (MI) joining the Republicans. As expected, North Carolina Democrat Kay “Cross the aisle” Hagan stood with her puppet-master Chuck Schumer and his friends.
I’ve never had a problem with the filibuster. The concept has weakened or halted numerous BAD legislative proposals. Senators Jesse Helms and Barry Goldwater were masters at using the Senate rules to kill bad policy — even that pushed during times of Republican presidents and Senate majorities. I’ve always thought they needed to stick with the concept of non-stop marathon talking.
Gutting the filibuster will allow Barry & Harry to ram all kinds of really awful leftist nominees through the Senate between now and January 2015 — basically setting the Republicans off in the corner. What good will a conservative president or Congress be if their work can be negated by a judiciary packed with leftist ideologues with lifetime appointments?
This should be a wakeup call for people like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Thom Tillis. You can talk all you want about reaching across the aisle. Except, the Republicans do all of the reaching. And quite frequently, they are missing a few fingers when they pull their hands back.