By Neil W. McCabe
When the Democrats killed the Senate filibuster before the Thanksgiving recess, they proved a political maxim I developed growing up in Massachusetts: Liberals never fear a powerful government because they control the powerful government.
But, frankly, there are a lot of things liberals do not fear.
Because liberals live in safe, well-patrolled neighbors and work in buildings with professional security, they do not fear crime.
Because liberals send their children to either private schools or exclusive-access public schools, they do not fear the effects of a poor education on their children.
Because liberals work for the government, government contractors or a business or organization tied to or supported by the government, liberals do not fear a bad economy.
In fact, do a quick inventory of your liberal friends and ask how many of them suffered economically during the last five years? How many actually have prospered from their government relationships?
Try this quick test. What is the worst school, hospital, housing in any city in America? One hundred percent of the time, it will be a government-run school, hospital or housing complex. Every time.
Because liberals never suffer the consequences of their policies on the lives of regular Americans, but feel no compunction to compromise or make accommodations for the objections of those who do suffer the effects of liberalism.
A further example of this mindset is the insistence by liberals that they be judged by their intentions, not by their results.
Confront a liberal with before and after photos of an urban business district or the fact that more than 80 million Americans will have more expensive, lower quality health care insurance as a result President Barack Obama’s restructuring of the health care system—and what do you hear?
“We have all made mistakes, but this is what we were trying to do…”
More than they despise answering for the effects of their policies, liberals hate having to make their case and convince others to go along with their schemes. This brings us back to the Constitution and that phrase the Framers used to describe the partnership between the Senate and the presidency: “advice and consent.”
In the last three years, Republican leaders, over the objections of conservatives, agreed to remove 200 presidential appointments from the list of offices requiring Senate confirmation. In July agreed to go along with the confirmation of critical presidential appointments based on the promise by the Democrats that they would not manipulate Senate rules to change Senate rules to eliminate the 60-vote threshold to end debate.
Now, the handshakes of July have been forgotten and are informed by liberals that requiring 60 senators to approve a presidential appoint is way, way too much to ask. Given the natural deference to the president, just how difficult is it to find a nominee good for 60 votes versus a nominee good for 50 votes? Ten votes does not seem like a heavy lift, but for liberals the problem is the lift itself they resent.
The fact of the matter is that the filibuster, or the prolonging of debate, was not the same as defeating a nominee, but in its routine practice, it was leverage. Leverage to convince the administration to release documents, answer questions or agree to policy. It was leverage to enforce its advice and consent role.
It is too easy to blame President Barack Obama and his own sense of his own rightness, but he is really no different from other liberals, who have no truck for seeking consensus or a middle way.
Yes, yes. Conservatives are also convinced of their own correctness, but the chief difference is that conservatives are working to restrict the power and tax-thirst of the government. A smaller and less confiscatory government allows citizens more freedom to live and work in their own correctness without interfering with the correctness of others.
But, now we are further away from that ideal, now that liberals have taken away that brake on the momentum of the evermore powerful government.
One would like to believe that Republicans in the Senate majority would return the filibuster to its rightful play in the Senate rules, but alas, they will not. Their complaints over the loss of the filibuster will then go into the same folder we put then-senator Obama’s proclamation that the filibuster was a hallmark of a thriving democracy.
Unlike the House, which is reconstituted every two years, the Senate is a continuing body with one-third of its members up for election every two years. Because the Senate maintains its continuum from its first session in 1789, by tradition its rules continue as well
they struck against the Senate’s partnership with the Executive and removed yet another restraint on the Imperial Presidency.