Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dems Go Nuclear in Senate

Dems Go Nuclear in Senate
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
November 21, 2013

Majority rule, minority rights is a thing of the past in the United States Senate as the Democrats voted to eliminate the filibuster as a right and protective tool of the minority. Ironically, the Democrats weren't too keen on this notion when they were in the minority. Now they have usurped total control of the Senate to continue Obama's biding in a dictatorial and tyrannical manner.

The “nuclear option” trigger was pulled by Senate Majority Leader and hypocrite Harry Reid (D-NV) on Thursday, November 21 and a mushroom cloud enveloped the chamber when Senate Democrats unilaterally ended Republican minority ability to filibuster some of Obama’s judicial and executive appointments by a 52-48 vote. Democrats Carl Levin (MI), Joe Manchin (WV), and Mark Pryor (AR) had the good sense to vote with the GOP.

The filibuster is an important instrument provided the Senate alone, not the House of Representatives, where all speeches and debates are parsed by the minute. In the classic film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Jimmy Stewart portrays the naïve, but good hearted senator who convenes a filibuster of epic proportion, the likes of which could only have been challenged in real life by South Carolina Senator J. Strom Thurmond, whose record filibuster of 24 hours and 18 minutes on August 28-29, 1957 still stands.

Reid is aptly called a hypocrite for evoking the nuclear option in 2013, when he vehemently argued against it in 2005.

“The filibuster is far from a procedural gimmick. It’s part of the fabric of this institution… Senators have used the filibuster… even… to stall executive nominees… Some in this chamber want to throw out 214 years of Senate history in the quest for absolute power… They think they’re wiser than our Founding Fathers. I doubt that that’s true,” said Reid on May 18, 2005.

Eight and a half years later, almost to the day, Reid accomplished just what he and his Democratic cohorts railed against so vigorously.

Under the old rules a minimum of 60 votes were required to break a filibuster on presidential nominees. Under the new rules, a mere simple majority of 51 votes ends a filibuster – easy for the democrats of this Congress as they rule with a 55-45 majority, taking into account the two independents who caucus with the Democrats.

Such an unheard of power grab will forever alter the fabric and landscape of the United States Senate, a legislative body which prided itself on debate since the Founding Fathers established it so the rights of the minority would not be trampled upon – words with which then Senator Barack Obama agreed in 2005.

“In the long run, it is not a good result for either party. One day Democrats will be in the majority again and this rule change will be no fairer to a Republican minority that it is to a Democratic minority,” said Obama in 2005.

“A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the results of an election is not normal,” said Obama vociferously applauding the rule change on November 21, 2013.

As usual, Obama is whining about the fact that his nominees are not getting rubber stamped, when they obviously leave something to be desired. Perhaps he needs to take the advice doled out by then Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) when she opposed this very power grab attempted by the GOP, although it never came to fruition.

“If you cannot get 60 votes for a nominee, maybe you should think about who you are sending to us to be confirmed,” said Clinton on May 23, 2005. “Remember our Founders, and maintain the integrity of the Senate,” continued Clinton in opposition.

A month prior, on April 13, 2005, Obama chided the GOP, saying “I urge all of us to think not just about winning every debate, but about protecting free and democratic debate…. It certainly [is] not what the patriots who founded this democracy had in mind.”

Former Senator and current Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE) also opposed then what he approves now. “This is the single most significant vote any one of us will cast in my 32 years in the Senate… This nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power… designed to change the reading of the Constitution. Has any party been so bold as to fundamentally attempt to change the structure of this body,” Biden asked on May 23, 2005.

Biden’s choice of words was prophetically ironic as presidential candidate Obama campaigned in 2008 on his desire to fundamentally change the entirety of the United States – not just one half of its legislative branch.

This vote on the rule change pertaining to filibusters will most assuredly create an even deeper fissure between Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans. It will not solve problems.

“They [Democrats] succeeded and they will pay a very, very, heavy price for it,” said Senator John McCain (R-AZ).

“You’ll regret this and you may regret it a lot sooner than you think,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

“It is another partisan political maneuver to permit the Democratic majority to whatever it wants to do, and in this case it is to advance the President’s regulatory agenda and the only cure for it that I know is an election,” said Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
The following Democratic senators are hypocrites having opposed in 2005 what they voted to enact in 2013:

Max Baucus (MT)*                                        Bob Menendez (NJ)
Barbara Boxer (CA)                                     Barbara Mikulski (MD)
Maria Cantwell (WA)                                    Patty Murray (WA)
Tom Carper (DE)                                          Bill Nelson (FL)
Dick Durbin (IL)*                                            Jack Reed (RI)*
Dianne Feinstein (CA)                                 Harry Reid (NV)
Tom Harkin (IA)*                                            Jay Rockefeller (WV)*
Tim Johnson (SD)*                                       Chuck Schumer (NY)
Mary Landrieu (LA)*                                     Debbie Stabenow (MI)
Pat Leahy (VT)                                              Ron Wyden (OR)

* Term expires January 2015

These Democratic senators are also up for reelection in 2014:

Mark Begich (AK)                                         Jeff Merkley (OR)                             
Cory Booker (NJ)                                          Mark Pryor (AR)
Chris Coons (DE)                                         Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
Al Franken (MN)                                            Mark Udall (CO)
Kay Hagan (NC)                                            Tom Udall (NM)
Carl Levin (MI)                                               Mark Warner (VA)
Edward Markey (MA)

Each of these senators, save for Levin and Pryor, voted to deny minority rights to the Republicans, and they should pay the price in next November’s midterm election.

It is up to we the people to deny the Democrats any further destruction of American political and historical precedent dating back to 1789 by making them the minority party following the 2014 midterm elections. This nuclear option has gone too far and no party should be without recourse, even in the case of just filibustering presidential nominees.

Do not sit idly by as one by one rights continue to fall by the wayside. Fight to defeat those who have cavalierly moved toward tyranny, by commandeering the right of the minority party to filibuster against those nominees they deem unworthy of filling the post for which they have been nominated. Send a message that their votes have consequences.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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