I’ve been surprised at the reaction to Rand Paul’s talking filibuster. By and large, Republicans have been cheering for it, even though the vast majority of them disagree with Paul on the policy. Anything that makes the president look bad, I guess. More concerning, liberals are cheering it on as the way filibusters were meant to be. I will admit that it has a certain charm. But there are real issues here.
The talking filibuster wouldn’t really fix the Senate. In fact, I think we can conclude that as long as we have a minority party that thinks that the Senate itself lacks legitimacy, there will always be problems. What we need above all else is a reformed Republican Party that plays by the long established but unwritten rules. Given that we aren’t going to get that any time soon, we really need to abolish the filibuster.
Jonathan Bernstein noted earlier this week a few of the reasons that even the supposed real filibuster reform wouldn’t have worked:
So unlike what almost all liberals seem to think, filibuster reform is not enough; we need the filibuster removed. After all, isn’t the Senate already undemocratic enough? And lest all my liberal friends go on tilt, remember: if these revolutionary Republicans ever become the majority, they will destroy the filibuster anyway. We might as well get a little use out of it. It would be great to get all those justice seats filled.
On the issue that Rand Paul was filibustering, I’m in much agreement. But what is the big deal with the drones? The truth of the matter is that the executive has long ago taken to using totally unconstitutional powers to kill people without due process of law. This is not about drones and it is not about citizens. The Constitution really doesn’t make much note of “citizens.” The Due Process Clause does not apply to citizens; it says, “No free man…” Last time I checked, those Pakistani farmers were free men.
Now Rand Paul has teamed up with fellow pretend libertarian Ted Cruz to create a new bill that says that the president oughtn’t to kill Americans except when they represent an “imminent threat.” Kade Ellis notes that this phrase is wide enough to fly a drone through it. And Adam Serwer thought the whole thing was a joke:
I’m all for oversight. But this is just pathetic. These systems have to be well designed. And even when they are, like with FISA, they are mostly just rubber stamps for the executive.
The real question we face is when are the people of the United States going to vote in enough solid liberal legislators to get the work of the people done? As long as we liberals continue to sit out midterm elections and allow the local school boards to be filled with creationist idiots, we will continue to see Democrats who are more conservative than Republicans a few generations back, and Republicans who only need a swastika and a charismatic leader to fulfill their destiny. The road is long but the cow is patient. Or something.