The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 8, 2013

Senate Democrats created majority tyranny


The Mankato Free Press

---- — I found The Free Press Nov. 29 editorial “Blunting the filibuster is good for accountability” perplexing. It seems to suggest with the filibuster available, President Obama might be hesitant to dismiss an incompetent high level political appointee because of a perceived difficulty in getting an effective replacement confirmed, over a Republican minority in the Senate.

If true, a rather cynical approach to governing. Most senators in the minority political party rightly recognize elections have consequences when it comes to confirming executive-branch political appointees. It is a rare exception when a super majority of senators does not give deference to a president’s cabinet appointments. Notwithstanding, if a president believes a high level political appointee has clearly demonstrated serious incompetence, it should not be tolerated under almost any circumstance.

The editorial made no mention of judicial appointees. Making it easier to get replacements confirmed when vacancy’s materialize in the 13 federal courts of appeals was probably the driving force behind Democrat’s implementing the so-called “nuclear option.” Those judges have lifetime tenure. The Senate’s responsibility to advise and consent with respect to federal judges with lifetime tenure should involve more than a partisan rubber stamp.

With President Obama’s urging and led by Senate Democrat leader Harry Reid, 52 of 55 Democrats voted to change rules of the Senate in effect for more than 100 years.

They eliminated, or at least modified, the filibuster. The next progression by a majority party could be to expand the elimination/modification from most federal judicial posts and executive-branch political appointees, to also include legislation. Including legislation would move the government from a Representative Republic protecting minority rights, toward a pure democracy i.e. majority rules — suppressing minority rights.

I view the move by Reid and Senate Democrats as an example of hypocrisy and extreme partisanship. In 2005 Reid and many of those same Democrat senators (including then senators Obama and Biden) led the effort to save the filibuster. During the Senate floor debate Reid said the Founders “... established a government so that no one person — and no single party — could have total control.”

Our Congress is so politically predisposed that in the House of Representatives the votes of the minority party essentially mean nothing. Should the elimination/modification of the filibuster in the Senate expand to include legislation, the votes of the minority party there will also essentially mean nothing.

Then, regardless of which political party happens to be in the majority in the Senate “We the People” could become subjected to the tyranny of the majority.

Reid was correct in 2005 — that is not what the Founders intended!

Bob Jentges

North Mankato