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Thu Jan 24, 2013, 08:47 PM

Why Senate reform fizzled (for now)

Why Senate reform fizzled (for now)

Posted by Jonathan Bernstein on January 24, 2013 at 3:09 pm


(1) Virtually no individual senators want a House-like Senate (majority party dictatorship as long as the majority party can agree to things). As far as I can tell, that includes leading reformers Jeff Merkley and Tom Udall. That means even most Senate reformers have some sort of middle ground as their ideal — which means if they got everything they wanted, a lot of reformers outside of the Senate (most of whom want majority party rule) would still be disappointed

(2) Merkley’s “talking filibuster” idea was, I continue to believe, wrong-headed, and wasted a lot of reformer energy on a completely useless idea — that silent filibusters are the problem and are especially bad — instead of working on chipping away at the 60 vote Senate some other way.

(3) Democrat-aligned interest groups and activists did mobilize, but in my view not enough, and not effectively enough. My sense from the reporting is that while almost every Democratic Senator supported Merkely/Udall, only a handful of them were really strongly motivated by outside pressure to get behind real reform. This is an inherently difficult problem; it’s hard to get people interested in procedure.

(4) The argument that using majority-imposed reform — the “constitutional option” — would make it significantly more likely that Republicans would use majority-imposed reform themselves in the future appears to have been taken very seriously by many Democratic Senators. There was never any way that Democrats were going to be willing to use the so-called “nuclear option.”

(5) I continue to believe that common ground is available on reforming the procedure for executive branch nominations. However, Senators have little institutional incentive to care very much about them. The person who does is the President of the United States, and at least publicly he was AWOL on this. Moreover, Barack Obama’s general low profile and apparent lack of urgency on nominations in general have made it easy for Democratic Senators to downplay the problem.



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Reply Why Senate reform fizzled (for now) (Original post)
babylonsister Jan 2013 OP
Selatius Jan 2013 #1
stultusporcos Jan 2013 #2

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 08:53 PM

1. It'd be ironic if Republicans used the "constitutional option" anyway when they win the Senate.

I understand Democrats were weary of giving Republicans an example of using the "constitutional option" to turn the Senate into a majority-ruled body, but with the way Republicans are becoming more and more extreme, I doubt they would wait for Democrats to do it first. Instead, they're likely going to be the first to pull the trigger here.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 08:55 PM

2. It is called winning but still losing


we just need to accept the fact that corporations are not going to allow change under our current system.

What we have now is not working.

We the people have to DEMAND change and vote out those that support corporations and take to the streets more often daily if need in multiple cites.

There can be no middle ground, centrist or third way any longer.

Pick a side people or corporations.

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