Tuesday, May 21, 2013


i almost wrote a post last week arguing that harry reid should use the nuclear option immediately because the democrats have little to lose. it's called the "nuclear option" because of the expected retaliation from the senate minority if the senate majority eliminated the filibuster. the idea is that if the majority took away the filibuster from the minority, the minority would grind senate business to a halt using every means at its disposal to make sure that nothing got done. because it is assumed that no one in the senate wants the senate to do nothing, eliminating the filibuster with a majority vote was called the "nuclear option," evoking cold war deterrence to assure that a drastic move like the end of the filibuster never happens.

the problem is the assumption that no one in the senate wants that body to grind to a halt is incorrect. the republicans are doing that already. what can they do to retaliate to the end of the filibuster that they haven't done already? in fact, eliminating the filibuster would at least remove one of the things the republicans already use to obstruct legislation and nominations. so in that sense using the nuclear option would help unstuck the senate.

anyway, the reason i started thinking about that post i never got around to writing last week, was this back and forth about the consequences of the nuclear option. jonathan bernstein specifically rejects the conclusion i reached that the republicans are already at maximum obstruction, but he still thinks eliminating the filibuster is worth it because the GOP might not follow through with their threat.

i actually think that the biggest reason that senate democrats have not gone nuclear yet is not the threat of retaliation by republicans. it's the notion that they might some day be back in the minority and they want to preserve the filibuster for themselves.

(via memeorandum)