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Nuclear option will lead to ‘Cold War’ in legislature.

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Senate rules, like any accumulation of traditional processes, are arcane, and hard to support based on any hard and fast principles. However, none of them are useless.

The reason that they’re still around is that they facilitate the process.

Now, the filibuster has been around for decades, and the reason that it’s still here is because majority parties have been afraid to get rid of it. Of course they’re confident that their party will be in power until the end of time, but just in case something should go wrong … better not mess with that.

Now we’ve got a group of legislators that is not willing to think in terms of what will happen in the future, and who do not believe compromise is valuable.

The Republicans would do well to heed the moderate voices within their own party and forget about the nuclear option. The effect of this ‘option’ would be truly nuclear. Unlike the insurgents on the day of the Iraqi election, you can trust the Democrats to keep their promise and shut down the Senate with parliamentary maneuvering. Any useful legislative effort will be put on hold so that members of both parties can relentlessly chip away at conventions which allow the body to run smoothly.

It would, in other words, be a Cold War. When you’ve got ‘nukes’ on both sides, a cold war will follow. No bullets will fly, but the already contentious atmosphere in the Senate, and to a larger extent in the House will turn down-right toxic.

The members of the legislature can debate all they want about the precedents surrounding the filibustering of judical nominees, but in terms of the current situation, it doesn’t really matter. If the Republicans do the nuclear options, the Democrats will start throwing nukes right back, no matter how much the Republicans may say, “No, no, no–according to this, we’re allowed! It says right there!”

It’s like finding a loop-hole in the nuclear test ban. No one is going to love you.

So: Frist, DeLay, Santorum, and the rest of you Republicans: leave in the filibuster, or the Democrats will be more than glad to say “Turnabout is fair play.”


Cross-posted to Leoniceno’s Corner

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  • http://jackkonblog.blogspot.com Jack Krupansky

    I would strongly advice anybody, any group, any party, or any nation from growing too dependent on any particular set of procedural rules. Literally, any rule that works for any group at some time will be usable *against* that group at some other time.

    All of this talk about “going nuclear” is simple about various groups trying to “game” the system and exploit power “wedges” in the chinks of the power structure.

    I’m no fan of the current “party in power”, but I would strongly advice the Democratic Party leadership and its supporters to drag themselves up out of the swamp called “the Senate rules” and seize the moral high ground. Be the “good guys”, not because you found an “edge” or big stick to beat your opponents, but because you really are a “friend of the people” and not beholding to various constituencies.

    The path to regaining power is through being magnanimous.

    Do not seek to be like your enemy, because you will likely succeed, and then all is lost.

    I would rather see the Democrats lose battle after battle after battle, but keep the the ideals that are supposed to guide the party intact and then ultimately win the war as a party truly deserving of the support of the American people.

    — Jack Krupansky

  • http://leoniceno.journalspace.com Leoniceno

    Jack- I’m a bit confused by your comment. You say that rules that work for a group can also work against a group. Yes? That’s what makes these rules a neutral presence, and it’s why they stick around.

    With regards to your third paragraph, I think you can make arguments that either party has the high moral ground, based on interpretation of Senate rules and practices. I merely advocate choosing the one that I feel will most facilitate continued productivity in the legislature.

    Switch ‘Democratic’ with ‘Republican’ and I pretty much agree with that paragraph.

    You also say that ‘The path to regaining power is through being magnanimous.’ You could also argue that the path to maintaining power is through being magnanimous.

    And frankly, I would rather see the Democrats acknowledge reality than hold onto an ideology that has ceased to connect with the American people.

  • http://www.psychopundit.com Dave Nalle

    You know we wouldn’t need the filibuster if we had 5 or even 3 different political parties who had to build coalitions to get legislation passed.

    Something to think about.

    Dave

  • http://leoniceno.journalspace.com Leoniceno

    Good point — is that going to happen?

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    I sincerely hope so, but it depends on how fed up people get with the whackos who are trying to dominate and subvert the two current parties.

    Dave