The Time-Honored Anti-Democratic Tradition

“Though seemingly forgotten by most TV talking heads,” it’s still fresh in Robert Parry’s mind (Consortium News, 2/9/09) how “it was only three years ago, when the Republicans had control of both the White House and Congress–and ‘filibuster‘ was a dirty word”:

It was usually coupled with “obstructionist” amid demands that any of George W. Bush’s proposals deserved “an up-or-down vote.”

Yet now, with the Democrats holding the White House and Congress, the Republicans and the Washington press corps have come to view the filibuster fondly, as a valued American tradition, a time-honored part of a healthy legislative process.

Today, it’s seen as a good thing that Democrats must muster 60 votes in the Senate to pass almost anything.

When the TV pundits talk about Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan squeaking through the Senate, they’re actually referring to a vote that might fall in the range of 60 or more yes votes to perhaps 38 nos, a three-touchdown “squeaker.”

The “anti-democratic” effects so “rarely mentioned in the news” are seen clearly when Parry describes what it took to “overcome a Republican filibuster” and get those 60 votes: “To reach this super-majority, Democrats have been forced to accept a higher percentage of tax cuts, even if leading economists consider tax cuts one of the least effective ways of stimulating the moribund economy.”

Read more about Republican filibusters in the FAIR magazine Extra!: “Turning ‘Won’t’ Into ‘Can’t'” (11-12/07) by Jim Naureckas