Republican Abuse of Representative Democratic Norms Has Made Them Impotent

Ted CruzIf it weren’t for all the pain and suffering they cause, I would love the Republican Party. But I wouldn’t love them they way I love Iago in Othello or Richard III in, well, Richard III. Because they are both brilliant in their evilness. Instead, the Republican Party is more like Cosmo Lavish in Terry Pratchett’s Making Money. He is the evil subgenius whose machinations fail completely because he greatly underestimates his adversaries and greatly overestimates himself. This isn’t to say that Lavish didn’t have his victories, but in the end, he lost and went insane to boot. As I discussed earlier this week in Pessimistic Conservatives, conservatism constantly loses as long as civilization doesn’t collapse. And, just in case you haven’t been paying attention, the Republican Party is insane.

Let us consider the filibuster for a moment. For decades people of all political persuasions used this drastic legislative tool quite selectively. And then in the 1970s, it started to get out hand. And from there, basically every time the Republicans were in the minority, its use went up. I’m not saying that the Democrats’ hands are clean on this. But it is pretty much true, Republicans Caused All Filibuster Abuse. And it got so out of hand during the Obama administration that Harry Reid really had no choice but to get rid of it.

Actually, the filibuster didn’t go away; it is just that it only takes a majority to end one now, so it doesn’t take a supermajority to get Obama’s moderate judges confirmed. So what did the Republicans, those evil subgeniuses, do? Well, they simply filibuster every judicial nomination. So instead of the filibuster being a tool for individual senators to use to at least create some news and slow down an appointment, it is simply used as a standard procedure to slow down the entire governing process. The case is slightly less strict with executive branch nominations, but it is still largely true that the Republicans just slow down the nomination process by default.

This leads us to everyone’s favorite Republican subgenius, Ted Cruz. (Okay, maybe it’s a tie with Rand Paul.) As you may have heard, the FAA has banned American airline flights into Israel, because, as you may also have heard, they are at war. Now, the obvious explanation for this is that since Israel is at war, it is best not to fly commercial airplanes there. But if you are an evil subgenius, you know the real reason: it is because Obama is trying to destroy Israel’s tourism industry! So Cruz has decided that he will put a hold on all State Department nominees. Now imagine him laughing maniacally.

The problem, of course, is that it doesn’t matter. Jonathan Bernstein summed it up well in an article today, Ted Cruz Renders Himself Impotent. As he summed it up:

The upshot, as I’ve said before, is that the Republicans’ collective decision to “punish” majority leader Harry Reid by delaying all nominations also has the effect of depriving individual Republicans of any leverage over individual nominations. Consequently, what Reid must do to overcome Cruz’s holds is pretty much what he does regardless.

The Republicans long ago decided that they were going to throw out all the norms of representative democracy and use every technicality they could to their advantage. But all that’s done is make the government not work as well. When punishment because de rigueur, it also becomes useless.

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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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