Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made one of his threatening speeches about the dire consequences Democrats would face if they scrapped the filibuster. He listed a litany of conservative policies he would ram through the Senate the next time the GOP had control of the chamber. It was reminiscent of the argument he made over scrapping the filibuster for judicial appointments.
Back then, McConnell had used the measure to block almost every one of Barack Obama’s judicial appointments. He abused the filibuster like no one in history. He resisted every compromise to keep the measure in place and after Harry Reid scrapped it for all federal judicial appointments except the Supreme Court, McConnell made good on his threats and rammed through unqualified judges to pack the federal court system with young conservative judges with lifetime appointments.
But it was McConnell who ended the filibuster for Supreme Court picks. After breaking Senate traditions and denying Merrick Garland a hearing to replace Justice Scalia, McConnell did away with the filibuster for the Supreme Court to approve Trump’s appointee, Neil Gorsuch. McConnell could have shown restraint or a willingness to compromise somewhere along the way, but he didn’t. He’s done more to divide the country and alter Senate decorum than any Majority Leader in recent history.
So when McConnell promises to take radical action if the filibuster is scrapped, believe him. Also, ignore him. If he had the power and he wanted a piece of legislation to pass, he would end the filibuster in a minute. However, conservatives aren’t about passing legislation. They are about reducing it. They aren’t about protecting the rights of the powerless. They about protecting the power of the wealthy. They don’t want a more just society. They want the status quo.
Right now, protecting voting rights should be the priority of every Democrat. The Supreme Court opened Pandora’s Box when they scrapped sections of the Voting Rights Act. Republicans have been restricting access to the ballot box ever since. Right now, they have some of the most draconian legislation since Jim Crow cropping up in state legislature across the country. McConnell says he wants to protect the power of the minority party in the Senate, but he wants restrict the power of minority communities in the country.
Mitch McConnell destroyed the filibuster by abusing it. It’s now an outdated relic that has caused more division in the country than good. It’s no longer a rarely used tool to slow down legislation. McConnell has made it standard operating procedure to produce the dysfunction that’s plagued Washington. Scrap it and find better ways to ensure minority input. We’re an innovative country. Use that spirit to re-envision a more functional government.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >