Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Unholy Alliance Against the Filibuster

The Unholy Alliance Against the Filibuster: "Today, the United States faces an unprecedented Bush administration effort to use religion to bring about one-party rule in the United States, and once again U.S. Catholics may provide the margin of victory. The Republicans seek to eliminate effective Democratic opposition, beginning with what they call — all too unmistakably — the 'nuclear option,' a move to prevent Senate filibusters against judicial nominations. Once filibusters against judicial nominees can be eliminated, they can be easily eliminated for any other matter before the Senate. "

Are Republicans trying to build a "permanent majority" (to quote Tom DeLay)? Duh.

For game theorists, the Republican willingness to do away with the filibuster implies a gamble that they will not lose their Senate majority any time soon. And, beyond that, they clear the way for a bare majority to approve two or three extreme right Supreme Court appointments. Changing the Supreme Court from a merely conservative body to a hard-right reactionary institution would "write" conservative policy into the Constitution, quite literally. That prospect is scarier to me than the prospect of pure "majority rules" in the U.S. Senate; anyone, who knows legislative bodies, knows that pure "majority rules" is never possible, anyway.

In American history, the great political sea changes have happened at regular 72 year intervals.

1788 -- Federal government established under Washington

1824 -- JQ Adams fails to hold back the Age of Jackson

1860 -- Lincoln brings on civil war, Republican majority

1896 -- Republican re-establish conservative majority

1932 -- Roosevelt and the New Deal

1968 -- Nixon poisons the high tide of post WWII liberalism

2004 -- Bush elected

Republicans are clearly intent on pouring concrete, whereever they can, as long as the pouring is good. Some kind of liberal/progressive/populist revival is inevitable, but it may find itself up against a Supreme Court, immune to its influence. And, it may not be able to overcome Republican gerrymanders and electoral fudging, even to achieve bare majorities in both houses of Congress.

Republicans and Democrats were evenly matched in the period, 1876-1894, before the election of 1896 brought the Republicans the reliable majority, which they held until 1932. Republicans and Democrats were evenly matched 1976-2002, as well.

The thesis of the Coming Perfect Storm is the hope, possibly vain, that a deus ex machina of bad policy consequences or bad luck, will interrupt Republican machinations. It is the hope that George W. Bush will be more of a Herbert Hoover than a William McKinley. It is hoping that catastrophe will head off a destructive evolution.

As catastrophe seems increasingly less likely, the danger of destructive evolution becomes more real.

So when Kevin Drum summarizes the current political situation as a stalemate between an exhausted liberalism supported by an indolent majority and an impulsive reactionary authoritarianism supported by an aroused minority, he asks, What will happen?

"In the end, then, we have a stalemate. The left in America has limited energy because its goals are fairly modest and its story is disjointed. The right has energy and vision to spare but its goals aren't widely supported. Someone — or something — is likely to come along in the near future and smash this stalemate, but what? Or who?"

And, some liberals are led to speculate on the rise of National Socialism!

"The National Government will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built up. They regard Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and the family as the basis of national life."

Sound familiar?, Hullabaloo asks. Its the voice of authoritarianism, of course.

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