On Monday, a group of Senators, in a bipartisan act, headed off a showdown over the so-called “nuclear option”, which would have radically changed the rules of the Senate concerning the filibuster process. While the two sides reached a compromise, I still think the Democrats should have held out, although I can see why they struck the deal that they did.
Being a minority party in Washington during these days of bullying from the hard right and the Puritan’s peanut gallery (occupied by the likes of James Dobson, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell) is not an easy position to inhabit.
While these religious zealots issued much blather and bluster post-compromise, not all the dissension was reserved for the side of our current day Elmer Gantrys. Democratic Senator Russ Feingold issued a statement in which he said that this compromise “is not a good deal for the U.S. Senate or for the American people.” I would concur with the Senator from Wisconsin.
It’s nakedly apparent how drunk with power the majority party is, in particular leaders of the Republican Party such as Bill Frist, Tom Delay, and it runs upwards all the way to the oval office. This recent tactic, filled with gall and hubris shows that they desire only to run roughshod over the traditions and institutions of government that have worked well for over 200 years.
While the filibuster might be unwieldy and certainly causes government to grind to a halt, it is a necessary and even essential part of maintaining our proud tradition of opposition in our country. Personally, I’d like to see the Democrats become even more of an obstructionist party, but I know that won’t happen. For Independents like myself, there really is very little to be happy with concerning our current state of governance.