The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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December 14, 2013

'Nuclear option' ignites more partisanship

When the Founding Fathers created our federalist system of government, they feared the tyranny of the majority as much as they feared the tyranny of a far off king with change occurring only if there was broad consent. The Founders set up a republic that filtered the majority — three branches of government, each state with two senators, amending the Constitution with approval from three-fourths of state legislatures, among others.

The Senate was originally a chamber of ‘unlimited debate’ by which any member could prevent a vote — called a filibuster. The only way for debate to end and a call for a vote was if all members agreed — called cloture. The filibuster rule was amended by Democrats in 1917 to a two-thirds majority needed for cloture, in 1975 to a three-fifths majority, and on November 21, 2013 by Senator Reid to be a simple majority of 51 our of 100 — the nuclear option — albeit only for presidential nominees.

Reid said the change was needed to preserve the Senate and for the sake of future generations over federal appointments. In 2005, the Republican majority was considering the same nuclear option for the same reason. Senators Reid and Obama gave impassioned speeches opposing the nuclear option.

But, now that the Democrats are in the majority and unable to get their way, they have chosen the nuclear option in a pure Democrat power grab. To the contrary for the sake of the Senate and future generations, The Senate will likely devolve in to a chamber of even greater partisan divide. The only way to preserve the Senate is for it to return to broad consensus The Founders intended.

Patrick Dempsey

Chaska

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