Jimmy Dore Doesn’t Know the Filibuster Is Dead

Jimmy Dore

I heard an extended period of Wednesday’s Majority Report where Sam Seder went after Jimmy Dore hard on Dore’s fantasy scenarios for how Donald Trump getting elected is going to all work out. Then Dore called into the show. (This was planned.) And the two of them talked for an interminable period about how Trump could or could not be stopped from filling vacancies on the Supreme Court. Dore’s argument is that the Democrats can just filibuster for two years. Seder pushed back on this. But neither of them seem to be aware of the fact that the filibuster has been dead for years.

Now I know: there is still a filibuster in name. But it will never again stand in the way of the party in power doing what it wants. Let’s suppose that Hillary Clinton is the next president and the Democrats have a majority in the Senate. The Republicans will continue to filibuster Merrick Garland. So then Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will step in and say the Republicans are not playing by the rules — because they won’t be. And he will get rid of the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees.

The Zombie Filibuster

This is what will happen because the filibuster has been effectively dead since the 2005 with the rise of the Gang of 14. As you may remember, this was a bipartisan group in the Senate that stopped Bill Frist from eliminating the filibuster, but only by allowing the Republicans to get 99% of the nominations that they wanted.

But notice something in my hypothetical above: I said that Schumer would only get rid of the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees. He won’t do it on legislation. Why would he? Schumer will have to take some political heat for officially cutting the filibuster back on the Supreme Court. There’s no point in him taking any heat for cutting it back on legislation, given that the Republicans will still have the House.

On the other hand, if the Republicans have control of the House, Senate, and presidency, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will get rid of the filibuster completely. That’s because they will all be prepared to cram Paul Ryan’s horrible budget into law. And there are many other horrible things they will do as well. McConnell would (Rightly!) not let the filibuster get in the way of his plans. The filibuster is like a zombie: it’s been dead for ten years. Somehow, people like Jimmy Dore (and to some extent, Sam Seder) don’t know that.

Jimmy Dore Is Ignorant and Dangerous

I fond the whole Jimmy Dore routine hard to stomach. It reminded me of the way that Scotty got out of the whole “changing history” thing in Star Trek IV. You may remember that they gave some chemist the secret to transparent aluminum. Bones questioned Scotty on the issue and Scotty replied, “How do we know he didn’t invent the thing?” Problem solved! You come up with something that could happen and suddenly it will.

Dore’s entire case against voting for Clinton is that there are ways in which Trump could be great for the nation — or at least not too bad for a couple of years before we get the glorious revolution. And that’s true! There are scenarios you can come up with. But the odds are at least a hundred to one that if Trump becomes president, he is going to be an unmitigated disaster that will take decades to recover from.

Jimmy Dore’s Life Is Good!

Of course, Jimmy Dore can go on spouting his nonsense about how the zombie filibuster will save us. He has nothing to fear. He’s a successful guy. I don’t know if he has kids, but if he does, he needn’t worry that they will go hungry if Trump turns out to be as bad as all evidence indicates. So listening to him prattle on as though he were some kind revolutionary just makes the absurdity of his upper-middle class (Or upper class!) privilege all the more vile.

The Filibuster Is Dead

The filibuster is dead. If Trump gets into office, the Republicans will push through legislation that they’ve been hanging onto for years. It will be catastrophic for poor people. And if this happens, I’m sure Jimmy Dore will say, “Oops! I guess I was wrong.” But I want more. Jimmy Dore should go out to the desert, pour gasoline all over his body, and light the match. I want this election to be a matter of life-and-death for him, just as it is for millions of poor Americans. Then maybe he would think a little deeper about his zombie filibuster fantasies.

Jimmy Dore by Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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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.

8 thoughts on “Jimmy Dore Doesn’t Know the Filibuster Is Dead

  1. I can’t say I disagree that he won’t be harmed.

    But that is part of the problem with the media-they have no real idea how the other side lives.

    • He’s a comedian — and one I find very funny. But I do think if you are going to get into political punditry, you should do some studying and learn a bit.

        • Yeah, but he has people like Cenk Uygur and Sam Seder — both very knowledgeable and critical of Clinton — arguing very clearly about the matter. It’s like going to a master class and just ignoring the teacher, “You know, I just think we disagree. I know you one of the top half-dozen violinists in the world, but we just disagree. I think it sounds better when I’m flat on that high E note.”

  2. Dead since 2005? Hardly. There were a record number of filibusters in the 2009-2010 Senate, which is the major reason why those productive two years were not even more productive, and why what legislation we got was badly watered down. It wasn’t until even later that Senate Democrats ended filibusters on appointment confirmation votes. You seem to be arguing that, because the Republicans could eliminate the filibuster on legislation, then they already have. But it’s been a major stumbling block throughout the Obama presidency.

    • Do you go out of your way to miss the points I’m making? I’m saying that the filibuster sticks around only as much as it doesn’t get in the way of the party in power. If the Democrats had had the House from 2003-2007, they would have gotten rid of the filibuster in order to get legislation past. I’m saying that the the Republicans have not touched the filibuster because they would gain nothing from doing so. I’m saying that the filibuster will not stop any party in power from doing what it wants. As a practical matter, the filibuster is dead. If the Democrats had 50 votes in the Senate, they would have gotten rid of it on Supreme Court nominations because of the Republican refusal to even consider Merrick Garland. Yes, there is some friction in the system. But I only see that friction on the Democratic side — and it is minor. Since 2005, the Republicans have been willing to put up with nothing at all. The filibuster is dead. But if you want to place the date of that at when Harry Reid used the “nuclear option,” fine.

      • Okay, now you’re just being rude, Frank. In the process, you’re making even less sense to me. Or maybe I’m just deliberately misunderstanding you as part of some weird agenda. Seriously, dude, you’re better than these cheap shots.

        “The filibuster sticks around only as much as it doesn’t get in the way of the party in power.” Do you not remember 2009-2010? The Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency, and they still had to deal with the filibuster. As just one example, the Affordable Care Act doesn’t have a public option in large part because the Democratic majority had to kiss up to Joe Lieberman to break a filibuster. The Democratic agenda was stymied because they tolerated Republican filibuster abuse. It wasn’t for years later that they were willing to move on eliminating it for nominations. Now, what you’re arguing is that it has no credibility as a future check against one-party rule. Fine, then say that. But it was actively used to stall the agenda of the majority party for two years straight, and that party did not simply get rid of it. I don’t know what would have happened if Harry Reid had announced the end of all filibusters in mid-2009. I don’t know how that would have played out or if it was possible; so much of the Senate seems to be run on extra-constitutional norms whose implementation is purely arbitrary. But my point is simply this: Democrats did not get rid of the filibuster when it started to get in their way; it took years of obstruction before they even partially took action against it. So why are you so confident they would instantly do it as soon as they regain the majority? Now, Republicans probably would. Their behavior over the last decade has shown they have no respect for institutional norms. But we went through years of Harry Reid saying “maybe we’ll stop the filibuster this time” and then not doing it, so I’m not confident that the next Democratic Senate leader will be more forceful.

        “If the Democrats had had the House from 2003-2007, they would have gotten rid of the filibuster in order to get legislation past.”

        What? This sentence makes no sense to me. If the Democrats had controlled the house that doesn’t have a filibuster, they would have gotten rid of the filibuster in the house that they didn’t control to pass legislation that Bush would have vetoed anyway? I’m desperately trying to make sense of what you’re saying here, and I’m not getting it. But if you prefer, rather than take responsibility for communicating unclearly, you can blame me for not trying hard enough to understand.

        • Sorry if you see that as being rude. It’s not my intent. I don’t have the time to spend on comments I once did.

          But let’s just look at your last paragraph: yes, the House does not have the filibuster. But the Democrats in the Senate had no reason to get rid of the filibuster on legislation given that the Republicans had the House and thus no important legislation would get passed. If the Senate got rid of the filibuster, it could have passed legislation. But that legislation would never have been passed by the House and thus never would have made it Obama’s desk. Thus: no point to get rid of the filibuster.

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