Donald Trump and Senate Republicans are on the verge of hitting the mother lode of ultimate power. A stroke that will allow the greatest hype-master since P T Barnum to rewrite Presidential history. It will let Republicans achieve the life-long dream of totally redefining the role of the United States Federal Government. In the short run it’s a disaster, but in the long run it’s a renewal, a rebirth of American democracy.
Senate Republicans drank from the cup of unilateral power when they voted to remove the 60 vote threshold for Supreme Court confirmations. This means that one political party can vote to confirm Justice’s with only their members vote.
The House Republicans have been ruling like this for years. The Denny Hastert rule currently enforced in the House, stops legislation from getting a floor vote that can’t pass without Democratic Party votes. The Senate voted to remove the 60 vote threshold for only Supreme Court appointees. Senator John McCain says it’s a “slippery slope”. He fears all cloture barriers that stop proposals from coming to the Senate floor for a vote will be eliminated.
Republicans wonder if one of their own has this concern, how America would react if the Senate followed the House lead and enacted their own Hastert Rule.
But if President Trump and Mitch McConnell orchestrated a government shutdown caused by Democrats not giving them enough votes to make 60, they could claim to America that one party rule was necessary to keep the government functioning. If this happens it will be discouraging to Democrats in the short term.
Days of Two Party Cooperation Are Over
There will be repeal of past Democratic initiatives and defeat of current ones in the short term. That’s happening now, there’s nothing Democrats can do to stop it. Democrats have no control in the current 2 party system.
But long term simple 1 vote majority rule will lead to the inclusion of multiple political party’s in our legislative process.
The day of voluntary bi-partisanship is over. A new model for the new reality is now required.
Republicans applying the nuclear option paves the way for the creation of the new model. Democrats should not fear Republicans nuking the 60 vote cloture rule. The bitter partisanship since the 90’s has produced de facto one party rule.
Third Political Party with Voting Clout Needed
Since 2001 major initiatives only occur when one party controls both Houses of Congress and the White House.
2001-2006 when Republicans had complete control it was the war on terror with both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. 2009-2011 when Democrats had complete control it was Obamacare and ending the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. From 2012-2016 with one party control of one chamber of Congress and the White House, we have had a little progress but mostly obstruction, government shutdowns and sequestered budgets.
If all it takes is 51 people of any political stripe to vote yes for proposals to become law, it’s easier for a third or fourth political party to join Democrats and Republicans on the playing field of the Senate. There are already 2 independent party Senators, Angus King and Bernie Sanders.
The current 60 vote threshold was designed with only the Democratic and Republican Party’s in mind. Lowering it to 51 means that adding only 3 more independent Senators could yield massive reductions to the current political obstruction. Even reducing the influence of the ruling party’s Vice-Presidential vote.
A third or fourth political party winning enough Senate seats to deny both Republicans and Democrats a ruling majority, forces all Party’s to reach compromise to perform the constitutional duties of the Senate.
Partnership Forces Compromise, Compromise Eliminates Obstruction
No longer would Democrats or Republicans have the luxury of saying it’s either the Democratic way or the Republican way. It would have to be the Democratic or Republican way in partnership with another party. In other words de facto 2 party rule.
Hopefully the success of this new model would spread like cancer over to the House. No one political party could even elect the Speaker of the House without votes from a second or third political party.
When no political party can empower themselves with only their votes alone, all political party’s have to become more pragmatic and less political.
More pragmatism guarantees less political obstruction. The inaction of the last decade will become a thing of the past. So President Trump and Majority Leader McConnell let the short term pain begin so we can have the long term gains.