Democracy, Filibusters, And Feedback

To be clear, my attitude towards Supreme Court Justice can be summed up very simply:

Is the nominee’s name Merrick Garland? No? Then refuse to confirm.

That said, I don’t agree with this supposed Senate apocalypse scenario (boldface mine):

Now, with about 10 days left in the showdown over President Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, both Wicker and Carper have turned dour in their outlook for what the battle means for the Senate — and the country.

Wicker is all but certain that Democrats have enough votes to block Gorsuch’s confirmation next week with a filibuster — by demanding a procedural step that takes 60 votes to clear. That, in turn, probably would prompt the Republicans to change the rules unilaterally to allow Gorsuch’s confirmation, and all other Supreme Court picks thereafter, by a simple majority…

The purpose of the rule is to promote bipartisanship and consensus, which in turn creates legitimacy and buy-in for policy and governance. If the filibuster goes away, so does yet another layer of collegiality in Congress — and another way to shore up Washington’s credibility…

And once both sides are guilty of breaching that standard on nominations, it would seem to be only a matter of time before a future majority obliterates filibusters on other legislation.

Bipartisanship is the problem, not the solution. The problem is that, if a party wins overwhelmingly, like the Democrats did in 2008, they still can’t govern without placating a minority in the Senate. In an ideological divided era–and people disagree about stuff!–what this means is voters, who elected politicians to do things (for better or for worse) don’t experience the consequences of those elections. Voters become frustrated as their party is unable to do anything, leading to a loss of “credibility.” At the same time, there’s no feedback mechanism for voters: voters can engage in the electoral equivalent of the zipless fuck. That is, voters aren’t responsible for the consequences of their votes:

A final point: too often, conservatives rely on Democrats to save them from themselves. You can vote for Republicans because Democrats will block Republican stupidity. Until, of course, there aren’t enough Democrats to do anything about it.

You wanted conservative values in government? Well, now these bozos are going to get it good and hard. Maybe the time to consider this is when you vote.

Of course, the side that’s about to lose the filibuster doesn’t want it to go away. In the long run, it will be a good thing, in that more democratic accountability for officials and voters is necessary–and is what really provides supposed ‘credibility.’

An aside: I’ll be the first to admit, however, if the filibuster does disappear, the estate tax will be weakened or even vanish, which would be a bad thing (there are enough Democrats, including a large swath of the Congressional Black Caucus, who routinely attempt to weaken the estate tax).

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