LOS ANGELES, April 22, 2014 — In 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid erased over 200 years of Senate tradition by gutting the filibuster as a delaying tactic for the minority. Republicans threatened to use this same “nuclear option” when George W. Bush was President, but they never followed through.
Republicans understood that the ability of the Senate to function would be destroyed once the filibuster was eliminated. Reid understood this as well while in the minority, but seemed to stop caring when Democrats won the Senate. He chose temporary power over the long-term well-being of the institution.
The Founding Fathers set up the Senate to cool down the hot ambitions and overreaches of the House of Representative. Fewer laws and actions were the norm, not more.
Reid and liberal Democrats argued that Republican obstructionism in the Barack Obama years was “unprecedented.” This charge was false. The world’s greatest deliberative body dithered through 44 presidents, black and white, protestant and Catholic, short, tall, clean-shaven and bearded. Reid and his other Senate Democrats further poisoned the well by claiming that GOP obstructionism was motivated by racism.
This outrageous charge had some Democrats quietly admitting that Obama is being treated no differently than Al Gore, John Kerry, Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale would be treated. Obama’s nominees were being blocked because they were ideologically extreme and professionally unqualified.
Harry Reid knows that Democrats were in jeopardy of losing their Senate majority in 2014. Reid engaged in a raw, naked power grab, reasoning that ramming as many judges through before November would be worth the political price. Reid’s gamble is on the verge of backfiring for the same reason that Obamacare, also rammed through using barely legal parliamentary tactics, remains an albatross around the necks of Democrats.
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The checks and balances the Founding Fathers set up were designed to scare the daylights out of elected officials. Fear of being fired would force politicians into caution. This would lead to major policy changes only when there was consensus among the American people.
Obamacare never had majority popular support. People like certain aspects of the law, but the overall law is hated. By abolishing the filibuster, Reid has emboldened Obama to nominate judges who are even further ideologically extreme and even more unqualified.
What Reid failed to calculate is that Democrats running for reelection in Republican-leaning red states were not willing to sacrifice their own jobs for an agenda further to the left then they were. The 1994 elections were a prime example of what happens to Democrats who force leftist views on conservative voters.
Obama has had judicial nominees blocked by his own party. Republicans have resorted to other delaying tactics. Reid could threaten even more unilateral action, but the people who will pay for his greed are Democrats forced to live under a Senate minor it with rights as few as in the House.
Reid was willing to burn down the entire institution for a few judicial nominees. Republicans no longer trust him, and cannot work with him. They gleefully look forward to retribution the day after the 2014 elections.
While the purpose of governing should be justice and not vengeance, retribution has been the order of the day ever since liberal Ted Kennedy publicly slandered Republican Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. Reid has just taken the toxic environment and exacerbated the mistrust.
If Obama and Reid had treated Republicans like human beings, things would have gotten done. By insisting on ruling by force, Reid will have only himself to blame when his gavel is taken away.
He destroyed the comity of the Senate, and may have wrecked his own party in the process.