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Technicalities in service to a different outcome

Mitch McConnell is all a-flutter that them Yankees would dare to besmirch his honor because he is defending the filibuster. The latest controversy is about some of the Democrats saying that the filibuster was created by racists.

Technically this isn’t true. According to historians:

McConnell pointed to the rule’s origin as not being rooted in race-based laws. Historians have said the rule wasn’t created to protect discriminatory legislation, but that it was associated with segregationists for over a century.

“These talking points are an effort to use the terrible history of racism to justify a partisan power grab in the present,” McConnell said in his speech. McConnell, noting the times it has been used by Democrats, asked in his speech if it “magically became an offensive relic the instant Democrats came to have a majority?”

Oh lawdy, if there’s one person in the whole wide world who should never throw accusations of gratuitous power grabs around, it would have to be Mitch McConnell.

But I see his point. I was never under the impression that the filibuster was created to further the cause of racism. But the fact that it was actually used by segregationists to obstruct legislation makes that a distinction without a difference. Is that the right phrase? Must look it up.

I think we can all see that at work. Well, anyway, within my lifetime I’ve seen it at work. And it’s usually very pernicious. You don’t even realize a filibuster is going on most of the time. It’s done silently. So as to preserve the dignity of the initiator? So, bills die a quiet death in the Senate. It’s sort of like the hospice of legislation.

The last person I can recall who used the filibuster as intended was Bernie Sanders when he protested a tax cut bill I think. It was called the filibernie and you could buy copies of it as gifts for people who enjoy listening to Bernie making some fine arguments- for nine hours straight.

But I digress.

All I can say is this is 2021 and for some f{#*ed up reason beyond my personal comprehension, this nation’s laws are clearly, CLEARLY, shaped by a history of segregation. Oh yes they are. There is no legitimate, rational, fair or just reason why do little legislation has been passed in the last 40 years that positively influences so many people of black and brown skin. Come on, people, it’s a couple base pair differences in a gene for melanin generation in the skin. Are we really denying people justice, fairness and opportunity over a couple of genetic variations that don’t amount to a whole Hill of beans? Or are black people just surrogates for keeping working class people always struggling and permanently aggrieved? Is it really used to enforce an unacknowledged form of segregation or is it used to create a permanent underclass in general? Golly, who would benefit from that?

Is that what they mean by a distinction without a difference?

Racism, segregationism, sure seems to be popular among those who use the filibuster. It’s like they stomped around mad after the Civil War until one of them remembered they could hold everything up by using the filibuster. And to make it even more efficient, all they had to do was waft an eau de toilette of a filibuster around to shut down debate and euthanize legislation they did not like.

Isn’t that what Mitch intends to do with the filibuster and the voting rights bill that got passed by the house that would make harder for white guys to stand in the way of black people to vote in a quick, efficient and non threatened manner?

I think that is what Mitch intends.

Bless his heart.

One Response

  1. My thought is that the arguments about whether the filibuster has a r_____ history, is the terrain that the Republicans would rather defend. The argument I wish would be front and center is that the filibuster is not in the Constitution, and has just gained acceptance based on the fact that the Senate has never gotten rid of it, but they sure recently did for judicial nominations, so it is hardly sacrosanct. And if McConnell ever becomes Majority Leader again, he would probably remove it after the first time the Democrats used it, and then blame it on them.

    The more recent allowing of a filibuster not to require talking, but just claiming it, and thus turning every vote but budgets and now judicial nominations, into “you need 60 votes for cloture, or the bill does not get a vote if one side invokes it,” it is completely inimical to a constitutional democracy. The checks and balances between the two chambers of the Congress, and the Executive Branch, protect the rights of the minority; and the Supreme Court was intended to be an “anti-majoritarian” body, to protect the rights of minorities of any type or persuasion, from having their constitutional rights taken away by the majority of the populace or elected bodies. The argument that the filibuster protects the rights of the minority, is another convenient but specious Republican talking point. What it does, is elevates the rights of 41 senators to completely cancel the rights of the other 59 senators, and their hundreds of millions of constituents to have bills at least brought to the floor for debate and a vote.

    Looked at that way, the filibuster must go, if we are truly to have a democracy. The debate about whether it has r_____ history, is very interesting, but I think the wrong tack to take, because it should not depend on its history, but its effect.

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