The new normal in Washington poses a novel danger to the nation. Democrats have no viable option other than to end the Senate filibuster to battle unchecked partisan malice.
That new normal at the nation’s capital is driven by a rudderless Republican Party partaking in a cascade of autocratic schemes run by a mob of populists who idolize and kowtow to a corrupt liar.
The mistake for Americans to make now is to assume that these Republicans have gone as low as they can go.
That was the national consensus when Trump first entered the White House. After four years of relentless corruption that culminated in a siege on the U.S. Capitol by Trump insurrectionists, Americans have learned there is no floor to a political party held hostage by villains. The GOP is now at the mercy of elected officials continually lying about election fraud in a bent effort to cling to political power in Washington and state capitals across the country.
Americans who subscribe to Donald Trump’s Big Lie, being used to ratify a coordinated attack on voter rights — right now — are by far in the minority. For months, consistent polling shows that only one-third of American voters believe unproven garbage by Trump and his lackeys in Congress that the election was “stolen” as a result of voter fraud. Astonishingly, however, just more than half of registered Republicans still believe Trump’s Big Lie, even after stalwart GOP leaders like Wyoming Congressperson Liz Cheney sacrificed her party standing defending the unflinching and undeniable truth. Biden won. There was no widespread fraud. Trump is lying.
Weekly Gallup polling shows that the Republican Party has been steadily bleeding registrations for years. This month, less than 24% of American voters claim to be registered Republicans. And a little more than half of those are beholden to Trump’s Big Lie. That means that political leaders representing the delusional whims of less than 15% of America’s electorate are wagging the dog in Washington D.C.
There is still a large contingent of Republicans who quietly deny Trump’s Big Lie and lament that they must remain quiet about their displeasure or be excised by Trump and his minions. Such cowardice is hardly new to American politics and not a problem just for Republicans.
And the anti-democratic antics of Republicans are hardly new. Since the emergence of the Republican Tea Party in 2009, Republicans have slowly handed over party control to extremists, who now regularly boast crackpots like GOP congresspersons Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado.
In the shadow of an unprecedented and undeniable assault on the nation’s Capitol — as Trump zealots ham-handedly tried to seize control of Congress during the Jan. 6 insurrection in an effort to thwart the 2020 presidential election — the stakes are too high to just stand back and see what happens next.
This is exactly the right time in American history for Democrats to end the Senate filibuster rule and prevent Republican extremists from using it for their own corrupt ends.
As historians and experts have repeatedly pointed out, constitutional framers never intended for minority rule in either house of congress. Absolutely the opposite. And as experts have repeatedly pointed out, the filibuster has done nothing to ensure bipartisan legislation since extremists began dotting and then running the Republican Party.
By continuing, Congress empowers Republican extremists to openly twist voting rules in hopes of discouraging and outright thwarting voters who seek to throw them out of office.
Those who vehemently support the Senate filibuster process, who are — at the time of their defense of the process — almost always in the partisan minority, say it’s a necessary part of checks and balances in the American political system.
It’s not. There are many checks and balances in the complicated American political system, built on the foundation of powers separated by three branches of government. Peculiar to the Senate, rules allow a minority of members to hold up the legislative process by making it impossible to move proposed laws and other measures to the floor for a vote.
The filibuster process has been modified several times. The House of Representatives did away with filibuster rules more than 100 years ago. The Senate has pretty much watered down the process since the early 1900s, with changes coming after a period of heavy abuse and obstructionism.
That time has come again. The notion of a filibuster is to slow the process to allow for thorough and thoughtful debate on a measure, not to allow minorities to do an end run on the democratic process and bully the country into getting their way.
The timing for any changes here is critical. Constraining voter rights to preserve power is anathema to American democracy. End the filibuster and return control of the country back to the majority of its voters and representatives.