*Originally posted on the Web Site for the Chicano Veterans Organization.
Should “minority” viewpoints be “protected?
Of course, I am speaking to and of the filibuster and as this self-accruing filibuster has been used in the legal wrangling by the Loyal Opposition within the United States Senate.
For the political purists, eliminating the filibuster, in total, is a ‘radical’ approach to the implementation of legislation into Public Law. And yet, the simple-minded fault of this “purity” has much to be desired. In contrast, “tweaking” the filibuster, is by far the better approach and where the “minority” is indeed protected, is the equivalent of a “social contract” that has been in use for these years past, and still is an impediment to a “super-majoritarian” view and where the 67 votes are required, and for the most part, deemed insurmountable, when addressing virtually all legislation.
In this latest “dilemma” of current politics, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is of the opinion that Senator Reid’s behavior is “tyrannical” to the minority that is the Republicans. And therefore, Senator McConnell is opposed to any “tweaking” of the filibuster, and consequently, McConnell’s shifting the “blame” onto Reid for disrupting the “logic” as used in crafting legislation that must then undergo the “process” and where the filibuster should not be used ‘against’ the minority. To wit, McConnell is attempting to cast himself and his fellow Republicans as “victims” of this small Democratic majority.
However, looking at the Senate history, until and prior to President Obama becoming president, the filibuster was “rarely” utilized when it came to presidential nominees as required by Public Law, as well as the normative judicial nominees for the Federal Bench. And for these past four years, President Obama has had to contend with the ever-present use by the Republicans of the filibuster, in their opposition to any appointments, either administrative or judicial, as part and parcel to their standard operating behavior for Obstructionism. In short, the Republicans have used the filibuster to thwart virtually all initiatives that the Obama administration has attempted for these past four years and this includes legislation.
Now, what are the Democrats proposing as the ‘tweaks’ to the filibuster?
Given that the Republicans are “requiring” the minimum of 60 votes on just about everything, including standard legislation, the “filibuster” has morphed as to a central pivot point that the minority, in this case, the Republicans, as the now standard operating procedure. And will Democrats, change this current status quo?
In a recent article by the Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Time, the Board went on the record with their advocacy for the following:
“Our response would be to eliminate the filibuster altogether. As a Senate rule, it can be changed by the majority party, and Democrats could eliminate it (though, of course Republicans would almost certainly filibuster such a move.) That however, would do away with the filibuster’s legitimate and historic place. Rather than eliminating the rule, the better approach would be to amend it in such a way as to preserve the ability for minorities to fight against one-party steamrolling while scaling back the filibuster’s capacity for obstructing everything.”
Of course, the “repealers” of the filibuster are correct in stipulating that since the Republicans have lost the last election, the Republicans should not have veto authority in the Senate, given that the House Republicans are the quintessential veto point, and further followed with the veto point that accrues to the White House on virtually everything else.
However, “compromise” must be reached in order to make the Senate more cohesive. To this effort, the major “tweak” is found in that the Minority can still filibuster Executive Branch nominations and appointments but can not be permitted to wage a filibuster battle on legislation. Thus, all legislation must result in an ‘up or down’ vote without the filibuster getting in the way of the contemplated legislation being considered for implementation, and subsequently, a majority of 51 affirming votes, turns legislation into Public Law, from the standpoint of responsibility in the Senate. As such, the House and the Oval Office will have to opportunity to exercise their respective veto point.
Of course, history does “bite” the unsuspecting and the oblivious. Take, for example, when Attorney General Ashcroft was undergoing his Senate confirmation, forty-two Democrats were opposed to his nomination, and yet, none of these Democrats went the rout to filibuster his nomination, and thusly, this “social contract” was maintained. More recently, Associate Justice Sotomayor underwent her Senate confirmation and where the bigotry and racism was somewhat prevalent and still, not the ultimate deciding factor.
Thankfully, Associate Justice Kagan didn’t have to undergo the application of white Identity Politics. And “moving on up” or with Ambassador Rice’s testimony before the Senate, Senator’s McCain, Graham, and Ayotte–the new member to this Neo Con Three Amigos, are laying the groundwork for their “filibuster” should President Obama select Ambassador Rice over Senator Kerry, and where “race” becomes the standard boiler plate for this political opposition among the Republicans. And if so, let this battle for “affirming race” as hard work and self-discipline, comes to the forefront of politics, commence and which will be well received among military veterans.
In closing, “tweaking” of the filibuster is an important political behavior to pursue on the part of the Democrats in the Senate, and thereby avoiding the prevalence that three sitting Senators will utilize “race” as their starting point for their political opposition. As such, three “contractors” were killed in Benghazi, all former Navy Seals employed by their private sector employer. And which causes me to ask the proverbial Question: “Will McCain, Graham and Ayotte share with me the number of “contractors” killed over the past ten years in both Iraq and Afghanistan?” If not, these Three Amigos are on the pathway to demonstrating their Cred as they apply their White Identity Politics in the public square. But I digress a tad and into a tangent of qualitative importance for those of us and who are military veterans, since the Three Amigos, have never expressed such a concern for any “contractor” in the past!
A Tip of the Hat to my friend, Jon Walker.
Photo by David Boyle in DC under Creative Commons license.