Filibuster Sleight of Hand
The Art of a Skilled Magician is distracting us with something entertaining while she or he performs what is required for the real trick. In the same way, a politician answers the question she or he wanted rather than the question actually asked.
Last week, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested he might allow a vote by simple majority of the US Senate to change something about the long-standing filibuster procedure. Harry Reid fears we are paying attention; he wants us distracted from the problems of campaign finance and thorough corruption that are the real obstructions to what we want.
This sort of proposal is often called “the nuclear option” because it may affect both the minority and majority parties and leave everyone upset. This proposal was presented with the justification that it would allow the current senate majority comprised of Democrats to approve government officers nominated by US President Barack Obama despite the current filibuster threats by the minority comprised of Republicans. The argument is that Republicans in the Senate are preventing all the good things in life which the majority Democrats want to give us. Changing the filibuster rules could well affect all legislation moving through the US Senate.
Pardon me, but this Senate does not offer much that I want. Their budget pushed by Democrats Patty Murray and Tammy Baldwin is Republican-lite austerity and they want us to blame Republicans. Their Immigration Reform Bill was well supported by both parties (bipartisan) because its main purpose was not about helping undocumented workers, nor is it about helping DREAM Act Youth. The main purpose of this bill is cheap labor for corporations.
The pattern is not new. The Affordable Care Act was thoroughly larded up with corporate goodies by the White House and Senate Democrats well before they needed to negotiate with Republicans. The pattern is true for most Obama signature legislation. How will any changes to the senate filibuster rules improve substantially any of the legislation now moving through Congress? Has President Obama ever nominated anyone who was not an embarrassing compromise? Be honest, even the choices approved for US Supreme Court do not cause great celebration.
So, the real purpose for US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to propose changes to the filibuster rules is to trick us into thinking that Republicans are the problem, the only obstacle to all the good things we want. This is not true. His proposal is just as shallow and foolish as pretending that the Keystone XL pipeline will increase supply of fuel in the USA and lower the price.
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers. –Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Photo by Christophe Verdier under Creative Commons license.