Home Chris Graham: Thanks, Filibuster!

Chris Graham: Thanks, Filibuster!


Republicans have found a handy tool – the filibuster – in their ongoing battle to kneecap Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.

That’s the good news. The bad news – well, good luck to the GOP when it gets the keys to the White House and majorities in Congress back.

“With little time left in this congressional session, legislative scheduling should be focused on these critical priorities. While there are other items that might ultimately be worthy of the Senate’s attention, we cannot agree to prioritize any matters above the critical issues of funding the government and preventing a job-killing tax hike,” reads a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid signed by all 42 Republican senators promising to block consideration of legislation in the lame-duck session of Congress until the dispute over extending the Bush-era tax cuts is resolved and an extension of current government funding is approved.

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The threat is just the latest in a series of successful filibuster threats by Republicans that effectively hamstrung Democrats from being able to do anything in terms of meaningful public policy in recent months. This with barely enough senators, 42, to be able to use the filibuster, or more accurately, again, the threat of filibuster, to steer policy discussions from the unusual minority bully pulpit that the unique parliamentary device provides.

Republicans were able to do a lot more in the 2000s (the Bush tax cuts and No Child Left Behind are two notable examples) with a lot less in terms of partisan-majority strength in large part because Democrats didn’t make the filibuster a top tactic in their arsenal.

Which isn’t to say that they haven’t seen how effective it can be with the success that Republicans have had in the halls of Congress the past two years now translated into success at the polls with the sales pitch to the voters that Democrats weren’t able to get anything done.

Oh, yes. As in sports, success breeds imitators.

The approach reminds me of something I’ve observed about the game of soccer, in which overmatched teams can pack it in by putting all of their efforts into the defensive side of the field in a strategy that accepts as a given that they’re not going to be able to score and thus win but also makes it so that their more talented opposition will have difficulty scoring a goal themselves. It’s a bargain that accepts 0-0 as the best possible outcome, but hey, you can’t lose 0-0, right?

The success of going all-filibuster, all-the-time means we can almost guarantee more of the same when the political winds shift, and the political winds are ever shifting.

Say goodbye to meaningful policy direction from either side from here on out. The race to a long line of 0-0 ties has already commenced.

And in the process, American power, economic, military and otherwise, already on the wane globally, has now officially jumped the shark.



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