a while ago, my friend told me he believed the senate might actually change its rules for the filibuster. incredulous, i insisted it would never happen, but over the past week or so it has really seemed like senate democrats would push for a change. harry reid said, “This is a moment in history where circumstances dictate the need for change.”
a miracle, i had faith.
at this point america knows how paralyzing the filibuster can be our governing bodies. the changes senator reid proposed to the rules guiding the senate would have been minor - confirmation of presidential nominations to posts within the executive branch would not have been subject to filibuster, potentially allowing these posts to be filled rapidly. nominations to the supreme court would not have subject to this rule change and the filibuster could have still been used to prolong discussion (stall the vote) on general legislation. it seems sometimes that the filibuster should be abolished completed from congressional procedure, but at least this rule change seemed modest for those who believe the filibuster to be necessary. we have watched the obama administration struggle to fill vacant chairmanships and posts within the executive branch. the amount of vacancies in the administration due to republican blockage in congress is historic. and the people who fill these positions change with every administration. when the republicans regain the white house, they'll be seeking to confirm their own nominations to these positions, positions that handle the quotidian governing of different departments within the governments. the confirmation process originated to ensure that responsible people filled these positions, that our government followed a meritocratic nomination process against cronyism. the confirmation process was never meant to allow any political party in congress to keep the elected president's administration from functioning.
the senate should have voted to abolish paralization and the american people are still waiting for the change they chanted for five years ago.
instead we get compromise. which isn't compromise at all. senate republicans have promised to allow a vote on a couple nominations and the rules regarding the filibuster remain the same. tacitly, republicans have also promised that other nominations would still be held up, that they would continue to paralyze the governing of the country whenever in a minority in congress. this is not compromise - this is optics.
and these optics are harry reid's. one cannot say that history dictates a need for change then accept a republican allowance of a few votes. nothing has changed. there was no compromise. there is only disappointment.