The Washington Post has three opinion pieces this morning that outline where the "centrists" in my party actually stand. The first, by US Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), argues in favor of letting 40 Senators, representing about 30% of the country, block legislation that the other 70% of the country want merely by threatening to block the legislation:
Once in a majority, it is tempting to believe you will stay in the majority. But a Democratic Senate minority used the 60-vote threshold just last year to filibuster a police reform proposal and a covid-relief bill that many Democrats viewed as inadequate. Those filibusters were mounted not as attempts to block progress, but to force continued negotiations toward better solutions.
And, sometimes, the filibuster, as it’s been used in previous Congresses, is needed to protect against attacks on women’s health, clean air and water, or aid to children and families in need.
My support for retaining the 60-vote threshold is not based on the importance of any particular policy. It is based on what is best for our democracy. The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles.
To those who want to eliminate the legislative filibuster to pass the For the People Act (voting-rights legislation I support and have co-sponsored), I would ask: Would it be good for our country if we did, only to see that legislation rescinded a few years from now and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law or restrictions on voting by mail in federal elections, over the objections of the minority?
Well, yes, actually, writes Greg Sargent: "That truly is frightful. Imagine a world in which legislative majorities could pass voting restrictions over the objections of minorities!"
As one of the last Democratic holdouts against filibuster reform, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) is making big news with an op-ed in The Post laying out her rationale. Some of its central pronouncements have already been debunked: Despite her claims otherwise, the filibuster does not facilitate moderation or bipartisan cooperation.
But there’s an even more fundamental flaw in Sinema’s argument: Defending democracy and the filibuster simultaneously, in the terms that Sinema herself employs, is simply incoherent to its core.
Sinema’s own treatment of these questions inadvertently serves to reveal that a choice must inevitably be made between the two — and that Sinema is choosing the filibuster over defending democracy.
Josh Marshall simply calls her "a preening clown," while New Republic's Matt Ford asks "how dumb does Kyrsten Sinema think we are?" But WaPo columnist Catherine Rampell argues that Manchin actually got Senate Republicans to admit to their lie that they only care about protecting the integrity of elections:
In a memo, Manchin proposed building upon parts of the For the People Act and a narrower bill, known as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, with a few amendments. His proposal would make Election Day a public holiday, require two weeks of early voting, automatically register voters through motor vehicle departments and eliminate partisan gerrymandering. It’s not everything Democrats want — and has some oversights — but it addresses most of the party’s goals for promoting free and fair elections.
Perhaps more important, from a political standpoint: Manchin’s compromise completely undercuts Republicans’ case for blocking reform.
It does this by including new requirements to safeguard election security, which is — or was — the top priority of Republicans concerned by “questions” the 2020 election supposedly raised.
Republicans, on the other hand, rejected the framework. Immediately, forcefully, unambiguously.
“It needs to be blocked,” remarked Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who a week earlier praised Manchin as “saving our country” by encouraging bipartisanship.
Let's not forget, simple demographics and the Constitution already give the Republican Party a disproportionate influence on legislation. And also remember, the Republican Party doesn't want to govern; they want to rule.