It has always been a source of amusement to us that many leftists love to quote Orwell and use “Orwellian” as one of their favorite anti-conservative insults. Yet day by day they perform activities that seem ripped straight from the pages of Orwell’s works. Take, for example, Monday’s Rachel Maddow show, which does an admirable job of shoving the recent history of the filibuster down the memory hole to make way for a leftist re-write.
In an interview with the Washington Monthly’s Steven Benen, Maddow and her guest cheerfully trashed the filibuster as “the abuse of the power of one senator to bring the nation to its knees.” This is not just wrong, it’s spectacularly wrong. No one Senator can sustain a filibuster–after all, it only takes the votes of 60 to override a filibuster. This filibuster is a tactic that only a unified minority can employ. It’s amusing that after so many shows deriding Republicans for being fractured and splintered, she’s now afraid of a tactic that not only requires them to be unified, but to pick up support from at least one other Senator (in this case, most likely Joseph Lieberman).
But that’s merely hypocrisy, not abuse of history. That came later, when Benen had this to say:
“Senators would occasionally filibuster in extreme circumstance. But as of, say, the last Congress, the number just exploded. We broke a record. The number of filibusters are coming in at unprecedented pace. They broke the record in the last Congress. They‘re on track to break their own record, and referring to the Republican minority, break their own record again in this Congress. And I think that one of the problems that we have is the political establishment thinks that this is normal, that the Senate just operates this way. It doesn‘t.”
Really? The Senate doesn’t operate this way? We think that would be news to the unending string of George W. Bush’s judicial appointees who were routinely filibustered by the Democratic minority.
Benen went on to further change history in stating that:
“the reasons that Republicans feel justified in being able to have these constant filibusters on literally everything, is that they feel there are no electoral consequences for their obstructionism.”
Leaving aside Benen’s abuse of the word “literally,” perhaps the reason that conservatives feel justified in using the filibuster now is that they’ve had it wielded against them for the past eight years. Eight years in which the left cried long and hard about how the filibuster was a valuable tool of democracy, and went into an absolutely apoplectic fit when some Senate Republicans brought up the possibility of doing away with it.
This is a fairly standard leftist trope after all–when out of power, demand that your opponents play by the rules. When in power, break the rules as often as possible, threaten to change the rules when you can’t break them, and cry “we won” as justification. But there is a very good reason that this country is not a straight Democracy–tyranny of the majority is a very real threat, and the left would do well to remember that changing the rules to further strengthen the majority only work as long as you hold on to power. And this country is not keen on keeping one party in control for too long. That is why conservatives should be–in our opinion–against any attempt to eliminate the filibuster. Yes, it will occasionally be use to oppose causes we believe in, but there is a reason it exists. And there is a reason it is difficult to change the rules of the United States’ government–it should be.
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