How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Talking Filibuster

Back in January I wrote about my love of politics and how I had high hopes that the Biden administration would make them great again. Over the last few weeks Senate Democrats have been hinting that the filibuster game is afoot. The Senator You Love to Hate, Joe Manchin, allowed that he would support a “talking” filibuster, where the minority would have to keep talking to delay the vote. Over the last few weeks, more and more of the Senate’s Democratic filibuster defenders have expressed their interest in either eliminating or reforming the current filibuster. Tonight Amy Klobuchar, the Chair of the Senate Rules Committee, said that the talking filibuster was coming in time for the voting rights bill.

Extremely Online Democratic Twitter is apoplectic over this change. “But it will still require 60 votes!!!” Yes, but only to break the filibuster. If the minority party stops talking (or goes off-topic if the filibuster is changed to specify only germane debate is allowed), the vote is called and a simple majority wins. Somehow this is a fatal blow to the…Senate Democrats.

The current composition of Senate Democrats is a recipe for Democratic success using the talking filibuster. While in the majority Senate Democrats are more disciplined than I had anticipated they would be, and they are able to work in tandem and to a scripted timetable (the current one being the growing support for a talking filibuster presented as minimal change to the process—and don’t underestimate this framing). Also, Senate Democrats are chockablock with nerds–glorious nerds who can hold forth with months of on-topic debate:  well-sourced, eloquent, affecting, persuasive debate–which will serve them well as a minority party.

Senate Republicans are supremely uninterested in governing, and even less interested in anything that can’t be repackaged into a FOX sound bite.  Remember, Senate Republicans got beat twice last month when they could not just sit in their seats while the Senate was in session (that’s how Merrick Garland’s filibustered nomination moved to confirmation).

Mitch McConnell knows this too, and he’s now regularly threatening to filibuster everything if the Democrats eliminate the filibuster. While using the status quo as a future threat is a bold move on his part, his panic is fueled by what is becoming apparent:  his beloved filibuster is staying, but it’s now going to require discipline and unity from his caucus. Maybe he should have been more specific in January when he asked for assurances that the filibuster would stay.

But my real enthusiasm to submit Senate Republicans to the talking filibuster is to laugh at them. One of the little things I like about the Harry Potter series is that the spell to banish the things that terrorize you is called “Riddikulus”. Laughing at things reduces them to a human size and form. And the current Republican Party is full of people to laugh at.

Here’s Louisiana’s John Neely Kennedy and his attempted slam dunk at a gun control hearing:

Here he is, again, mansplaining how the IMF works to Janet Yellen:

Rand Paul gonna Rand Paul:

Because I am merciful, I’ll spare you the video of Ted Cruz. Here’s what he tried to sell during the hearing on the voting rights bill:

This bill is the single most dangerous bill this committee has ever considered. This bill is designed to corrupt the election process permanently, and it is a brazen and shameless power grab by Democrats. That the number-one priority is not COVID or getting people back to work or getting kids back in school. It’s keeping Democrats in power for 100 years. And how do they do this? They do this by instituting a bill that will promote widespread fraud and illegal voting. Under this bill, there’s automatic registration of anybody if you get a driver’s license, if you get a welfare payment, if you get an unemployment payment. If you attend a public university. Now, everyone knows there are millions of illegal aliens who have driver’s licenses, getting welfare benefits to attend public universities. This bill is designed to register every one of those illegal aliens. What would the impact be in state elections of automatically registered millions of illegal aliens to vote?

Like the videos above, it is full of lies and magical thinking. Imagine televising dumb arguments like this to millions of Americans to justify denying us our vote.

 

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