Some folks have a bee in their bonnet about the filibuster & have been agitating to get rid of it for a while now. (Except, of course, when it was used by Senate Democrats to block George W. Bush’s judicial appointments – in which case it was a key cornerstone of the Republic.)
I guess I can understand the intellectual arguments on both sides, but (as often happens) what I can’t understand is the passion. What drives a person to feel so strongly about the supposed need to get rid of the filibuster that they blog about it endlessly? I mean, even if my position (which, I’m not even sure I have one) were to get rid of the filibuster, I still wouldn’t care.
At face value, one can only interpret such caring to indicate that the carers passionately want the Senate to be constantly doing stuff. If the Senate isn’t doing stuff, or is thwarted from doing as much stuff as a majority of it seemingly would like to, that’s something akin to a tragedy and certain people just can’t abide it. Why, the Senate could be doing more stuff – writing more laws and regulations, handing out more pork and earmarks – and it’s not! Ipso facto, reform is needed – say some people.
It’s similar to the left’s approach to treaties. ‘It’s a treaty! I haven’t looked into it too deeply but we should probably sign it! Why are you against it? What are you, just against all treaties?’
Theirs is a bias for action, or (at minimum) for a stance according to which ‘action’ and ‘non-action’ start out on an equal footing, and in each opportunity for an ‘action’ you need the argument for non-action to outweigh the argument for action. Otherwise, they’re for action!
It’s difficult to convey just how alien a point of view this all is from mine. I guess it’s fair to say I have a bias for inaction. All other things being equal, and lacking other information or highly compelling reasons to the contrary, my default answer to ‘should we do it?’ is No. I certainly don’t feel any strong compulsion to try to make the Senate able to do more stuff daily nor does its current (supposedly too low) rate of doing stuff make me feel sad, incomplete, or unsettled. In the most fundamental way possible, this is all just a statement of the fact that I am conservative.
So maybe I am extreme. But the opposite point of view seems extreme as well. Whatever you think about this or that Senate, or this or that issue, the notion that the United States needs the Senate to be constantly doing stuff strikes me as pathologically bizarre and disconnected from reality. As if our lives couldn’t continue if the Senate stopped doing stuff! This bespeaks a mindset that seems a little too steeped in bureaucratic thinking. Like a middle manager who thinks their PowerPoints are so important, there’s a class of politically-agitated folk which sees our DC masters as something akin to the engine or heartbeat of our country – if they are ‘paralyzed’, if they stop, we all stop. That’s why filibuster reform is so important!
My inclination is to assert that no one with (simultaneously) a real life, a real job, a real background, a real family, real responsibilities, and real experiences could possibly think this way. But I guess, by the same token, I do understand why DC elites, various classes of self-anointed intelligentsia, and the wunderkind bloggy commentariat think this way.
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