We live in an instant gratification society. Legislation has been compared to sausage making. Most of us love a grilled brat at a tailgating event but almost none of us either want to think about what goes into it and fewer yet want to visualize the process. If you think that opening was strange it gets stranger.
Last weekend the Senate Parliamentarian, and I think correctly, ruled that the current Democratic immigration proposal could not be passed via reconciliation. Before anyone jumps to an incorrect conclusion, I am not saying I am against the proposal or oppose comprehensive immigration reform; I’m simply saying I agree that the proposal was not eligible for that legislative procedure. Many progressives look at that as a loss. I think it may be a step toward an unfortunately necessary action that will, at least in the immediate, be a huge progressive victory. I think it will hasten the end of the filibuster, at least its current form.
I share the agony of other progressives. It seems like every effort is running into a roadblock and is going nowhere. Welcome to the America of my lifetime. Fortunately, in the words of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, “The arc of moral justice is long, but it bends toward justice.” Put in everyday language applicable to today, it seems like it takes forever but it usually works out in the long run. Or to steal a line from my favorite rock and roll band, The Rolling Stones, “…you can’t always get what you want…but…you get what you need.”
The history of my lifetime alone bears me out. I remember the filibuster frustration of LBJ’s Great Society legislation, especially as it pertained to Civil and Voting Rights. Fast forward a few decades to the painfully long process of getting Obamacare enacted. They both happened but it seemed like they took forever.
The jury is still out as to whether Joe Biden’s progressive causes will ultimately prevail. This much is sure – paraphrasing another rock lyric, this time from The Beatles – it won’t come easy.
West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is currently writing the climate change legislation for the administration. Manchin is the key Democratic defender of the current filibuster. He also has what can only be a political allegiance to coal (coal is no longer a key West Virginia industry, has been in decline since the 1980’s, and shows no signs of making a comeback). There is a small contingent (I’m guessing 3, perhaps a few more) in the Democratic Senate caucus that is resistant to eliminating the filibuster. (My guess is that the best we can hope for is a major modification or a carve out(s).)
Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans are running a total obstruction offense. It failed against Obama but they are hoping for a better outcome this time around. What alternative do they have? They no longer stand for anything nor do they appear capable of achieving any tangible progress for the average American. In fact, I don’t think they are even trying any longer.
Without eliminating or significantly amending the filibuster the progressive agenda is DOA in the Senate. Mitch and his crew do not care about America. Their only concerns are the lowest common denominator of their base which is simply obsessed with keeping America white (a losing proposition) and damn both the consequences and the realities along with placating Donald Trump. Trump is a zero sum guy only concerned with himself. He sees anything that can be painted as a Biden loss as his victory. He also could care less about the country or its people.
Whatever legislation Manchin comes up with can get the support of all fifty Democratic Senators but will not garner the support of ten Republican senators leaving it a fatality of the current filibuster. That should bring the issue to a head.
The only remaining questions are: How long will it take and will Manchin and his few compatriots wake up soon enough? If I had to sum up the situation in a single word it would be today’s title – Frustration.
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