If the Democratic Party intends to get serious about governing, it can start by disabling the Republican filibuster that gives the minority party in the Senate a virtual veto over anything it wants to kill. The chatter in Washington assumes that since Democrats failed to gain a sixty-seat majority, there’s nothing they can do. But that’s not true. Democrats can change the rules and remove a malignant obstacle from the path of our new president. Given the emergency conditions facing the nation, why should Mitch McConnell and his right-wing colleagues get to decide what the Senate may vote on?
This proposition disturbs the happy talk about the “postpartisan” politics Barack Obama has inspired. But let’s get real. McConnell is making nice for the moment, having survived his re-election scare in Kentucky. But he will use the filibuster to stymie the new Democratic administration whenever it looks to him like a political opportunity for Republicans. Thanks mainly to McConnell, the 110th Congress of 2007-08 set a new record–138 cloture motions to limit debate and head off filibusters. That is double the level of ten years ago. Who really believes McConnell will voluntarily give up his starring role as Senator No?