When I was a kid, I was the oldest of four siblings and one of my favorite games was a game that kids play in big families. It was great!
You played the game this way: The oldest, or biggest, kid (me!) would hold the wrist of a smaller sibling and slap that sibling’s face with his own hand, and all the while the oldest kid (me!) would be yelling “Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!”
God, I loved that game. I loved it all the way up until the minute my dad joined in the fun.
I see they’re still playing that game in Washington, D.C.
The Republican majority in the Senate is moving to the nuclear option, gutting the filibuster in order to use their majority to install Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. The GOP promises they won’t use the nuclear option on the unimportant stuff — only on the lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
And here’s the best part: The Republicans tell us that it’s the Democrats’ fault that this is happening. (“Stop hitting yourself”).
You see, the GOP wants to get stuff done, and the Democrats are going to go along whether they like it or not (“Stop hitting yourself”).
Judge Merrick Garland was nominated to the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Republican senators refused to meet with him even though he had been confirmed unanimously to the federal appeals court by, uh, THE UNITED STATES SENATE. A Republican senator, Orrin Hatch, of Utah, suggested him as a good nominee to the High Court, but his fellow Republicans were having none of it.
Democrats believe this seat was hijacked, and they have a pretty good case because back in the halcyon days when most of us (and them) thought that Hillary Clinton would win the election, Republican senators spoke openly about keeping Scalia’s seat open for whatever might be the duration of a Hillary Clinton presidency.
And now the Republicans would have the American people believe that Democrats brought this upon themselves. In fact, it is the Senate that has brought this on itself.
There are plenty of places where you can view the history of the filibuster, and I hope you will do so. But what you need to know is that at one point the filibuster was seldom used, in part because it required a two-thirds vote of the Senate for a “cloture” motion to break the filibuster. And the catch was that you had to stand in front of the deliberative body and actually speak for hours on end, or until you gave out.
The rule was later changed to a requirement of 60 votes for cloture, which was possible in a more closely divided Senate . . . and they didn’t even make you put any skin in the game anymore. No long harangues, or having to be subbed for periodically so you could go to the bathroom. After all, who wants to miss a good night of sleep, or a fundraiser?
Finally, it was not even required that you actually filibuster in order to filibuster. All you had to do was SAY you were going to filibuster, and that brought all debate and deliberation to a halt.
What the Senate might not know — or care about — is that somewhere in there, the American people threw their hands up in despair. This cannot be the way America is governed.
Back in the day, members of both parties recognized that they had been sent to Washington to govern. They had to find a way to get along for the good of the country. That’s all gone now. Everyone is there now to raise money for re-election. And nothing, they think, can be good for America if it’s something that’s not in their own party’s interest.
It seems to be a lack of understanding of the difference between wanting to govern, and wanting to rule.
Ezra Klein has just pointed out in one of his Vox videos that the Democrats outpolled Republicans in the election before Justice Scalia died, and Democrats outpolled Republicans in the election after Justice Scalia. In between, the Republicans kneecapped the nomination of Judge Garland.
So now they want to act as if it’s the Democrats that are the cause of the finagling of the filibuster.
What Republicans should know is that at some point, the voices of the American electorate will be heard. I’m talking about the electorate that had one candidate beating the other by 3 million votes, but not “winning” the election.
And while I despair for my country after so many people voted for The Current President, I cannot buy the premise that Americans are a venal, hateful people. Americans take a dim view of those who cheat, one example being penalty strokes administered to a professional golfer based on what a television viewer saw on his television at home, hundreds of miles away.
I’m an admitted partisan, and I’m tired of the “Stop hitting yourself” method of governing that Republicans are using. I want to dish out some punishment, and some day we will.