Revolutionary Politics and the Filibuster

Tom UdallGreg Sargent interviewed Tom Udall this morning. Udall is one of the main proponents of filibuster reform. He is one of what Harry Reid called, “two young, fine senators” when Reid first called for reform. Before he folded like a card table. During the interview, Udall said, “The Senate is now a graveyard for good ideas, and we need to change that.”

The reason that the filibuster is broken, and the reason that Harry Reid’s newest “handshake” agreement will not work is simple: the Republicans have become a revolutionary party. And what most defines such groups is that they think that the whole of the existing system is invalid. When the Nazis took power in Germany, the first thing they did was dissolve parliament and establish a dictatorship. I don’t mean to suggest that the Republicans want to do that, but they most definitely believe that the Democratic Party is invalid and so the Republicans will do whatever they can to stop them—even when they do things the Republicans agree with.

I’ve written before of my Dungeons & Dragons analogy for modern Republican politics. This goes back to my days of playing the game and how I and everyone I knew played it in a totally cynical way. We looked at the rules to figure out loopholes that would allow us to do our best in the game, rather than play it in any reasonable way. And this is how Republicans currently govern. They sweep aside hundreds of years of norms and look for ways they can game the system—things like the Debt Ceiling and the filibuster.

Under normal circumstances, actual filibuster reform would be unnecessary. But as long as the Republicans remain committed to their revolutionary agenda, it will. And I see no evidence of the Republicans changing. Many observers said their defeat in this election would cause the party to rethink its dangerous and unpopular positions. (They said the same thing in 2008.) Instead, they have rethought their tactics. Now they are trying to game the electoral college system.

You cannot make nice with a revolutionary party. You can only defeat it. Unfortunately, Harry Reid and many other Democrats do not understand this.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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