Activists say they’re getting tired of the president’s reluctance to demand federalized elections and an end to the filibuster, but why are they laying into him? There was a time when Joe Biden could make a direct impact on whether a bill made it to the president’s desk. For more than three decades, Biden had the power to place one of Delaware’s two Senate votes however he wished. Even as vice president he had the power to break ties.
But those days are gone – and it doesn’t look like many, if any, of the current crop of senators and representatives plan to let the distinguished gentleman from Delaware direct their votes.
Election Reform – The Real Forever War
As Liberty Nation’s Graham J. Noble once wrote: “The most bitterly partisan issue rattling the halls of Congress these days is almost certainly the Democratic Party’s push for nationwide election reform.” Several states passed their own laws this year aimed at plugging any holes in election security that may exist, and it’s driving the left into a frothing rage. Self-declared civil rights activists demand action – and congressional Democrats are trying to comply. It’s the “Racists” and “DINOs” – that’s “Republicans” and “conservative or centrist Democrats, who are probably also racist,” for those not fluent in the far-left language – who stand in opposition to progress.
“It’s time for action, not words,” said Fred Wertheimer, the president of Democracy 21, a lobbying organization with a history of shelling out dough to support partisan Democrat bills and described by CNN as “an election watchdog group.” According to Wertheimer, Biden “has to engage in this fight or he’ll share responsibility for potentially millions of Americans losing the ability to vote in future federal elections.”
The 2020 presidential election was surrounded by controversy and suspicion. Republicans aren’t going to support nationalizing election laws, especially not when the Democrats want to stop the GOP at the state level from making it harder to cheat. So, if we know the Republicans aren’t going to change their tune and that they don’t care one bit what Joe Biden of all people wants them to do, what is it these progressives really want from their president?
Busting the Filibuster
What the left really desires is an end to the filibuster. But they’re barking up the wrong tree. Even if Biden wanted to – and he doesn’t – he has neither the legal authority to end it himself nor even the political clout to persuade Congress to do it.
Think about it for a moment. Numerous partisan progressive bills have cleared the House, unscathed by sometimes fiery opposition by the GOP, only to die in the Senate thanks to the filibuster. Without that tool, a simple majority could pass even the most radical pieces of legislation, no matter how adamantly the party only barely in the minority tried to stop it. The Senate Democrats who stand in defense of the filibuster don’t do so because Joe Biden has yet to command them otherwise; they do so either because they honestly believe ramrodding partisan legislation through Congress is wrong or because they want to use it themselves when they eventually lose the majority. Already, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) feel the burning ire of the media, the progressive activists in the streets, and even their own colleagues in Congress. They aren’t going to have a miraculous change of heart because of Biden.
Still think Biden has the power to sway Congress? Why don’t we have an alternative filibuster? Manchin and Biden both have said they like the idea of a reformed filibuster. Biden has often brought up the “talking filibuster,” which allows someone to delay a vote only so long as they can command the floor with their oratory prowess. It’s certainly the most entertaining form. What about alternatives to the 60-senator cloture vote? Two ideas have been floated that would take the burden off the majority’s shoulders and place it firmly with the minority – and one has historical precedence, like Biden’s more garrulous option.
It has been pointed out by some that if 59 senators vote to end a debate and zero vote against it, cloture fails. One suggestion is that three-fifths of however many senators happen to be “present and voting” can end it. Another returns to the set-in-stone method, but would require the opposition to muster 41 votes to keep a debate open. Either case would require the minority to at least show up and participate, but neither would change the fact that 41 senators can kill a bill. Whether either option is a good idea is a debate for another time, but probably both sides of the filibuster debate could agree that this is, at least, not less reasonable than killing it outright.
So where’s the filibuster reform vote? If the president and at least one of the current holdouts would support changing the filibuster to one of these three options, why isn’t there a significant movement in the Senate to make it happen? The answer is simple: The progressives don’t want it, and no amount of Biden’s blustering is going to change that. Sound familiar?
Read more from James Fite.