For the Senate to work, it needs majority rule
Insight for the day: “If you make it impossible to legislate, then politics really is just culture war posturing…”
I believe the third sentence in the second paragraph contains a typo and should read "than the roughly $1 trillion Affordable Care Act." Currently it says "billion" and not "trillion."
I think you could critique this article, though, using your own style of "realistic politics" arguments.
Joe Manchin isn't getting rid of the filibuster because he knows you're right and doesn't *want* power. With great power comes great responsibility. More to the point, with great power comes "getting things done," and with getting things done comes... losing in West Virginia.
I think Democrats underestimate the practical, real-world, intractable problem that comes with the 50th Democrat in the Senate serving in a state where Donald Trump beat Joe Biden by 39%. Democrats have literally no leverage over Joe Manchin, and it's in Joe Manchin's rational political interest to ensure that nothing gets done. It's still better than majority leader Mitch McConnell.
It seems to me that the direct connection you make between 'abolish the filibuster' and 'add 2-8 Democratic Senators on a party line vote' is pretty much the reason that moderates don't support it. That would be an incredibly toxic thing to do and I don't see how people don't realize that.
Separately, maybe Manchin just doesn't think it makes sense to pass the top 20 Democratic priorities all at once. I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with picking one (maybe Climate Change) and passing a bill dedicated to that priority, then next year picking another one (maybe Medicare age/dental for the seniors).
Congress would certainly work better without the filibuster, but since abolishing it appears to mean immediately creating a massive political crisis by adding as many as 4 states I can see how people support the status quo.
TIL what "catbird seat" means
Alternatively, Democrats could work in a bipartisan fashion to create bills that are supported by more than 60 Senators. Though that wouldn't add up to $3.5T, restructure the welfare state, lay the groundwork for adding new states, revamp voting in all 50 states, increase taxes on "the rich" and attempt to eliminate the oil & gas industry.
In other words, try to pass moderate, incremental changes that reflect the views of most of the electorate rather than the slightly-modified wish list that originated from the Bernie Sanders wing of the party.
Talking about "the median Senate seat [being] something like R+2 rather than R+6" is really quite disingenuous. The median Senate seat is R+6 for a Democratic Party that's indulges affluent white progressives' social liberalism. Is R+6 for "celebrate your abortion" and decriminalizing border crossings.
But it's not R+6 for Barak Obama, who opposed same sex marriage, railed against exporting jobs to Mexico, and cracked down on illegal immigration. It was less than a decade ago, when Obama's blue wall still held, that Democrats were preening about a permanent electoral college advantage: https://www.salon.com/2012/12/01/do_democrats_have_a_permanent_electoral_college_advantage/
The Senate can't be abolished without convening a constitutional convention to rewrite the Constitution. A new constitutional convention happens to be a popular idea in some corners of the far right - so is the Sunrise Movement in agreement with that? Seems like a really bad idea to open that Pandora's box.
It might be constructive, though, to propose and work for an amendment that gives the House power to override the Senate - that wouldn't deprive any State of equal representation in the Senate so would be allowable.
If that was paired with an amendment to modify the Electoral College so each State's EVs are based solely on its representation in the House, not the Senate, that would address most of the major structural complaints with the federal government, with modest tweaks.
But slogans are more fun.
I get the argument that the top line number isn't arbitrary, in the sense that it got negotiated... But the thing is, much of the spending seems arbitrary and is now in the process of getting backfilled to figure out what exactly it will be spent on.
Ex: $10B (or whatever) for the Civilian Climate Corps! Ok cool, what are they going to actually do over the next 10 years? "Job training and stuff...it'll be like CCC but for the climate!" Ok, but what will they spend the money on? "We haven't figured that out yet, but building stuff somehow, maybe..."
There are oodles of these types of things making up the $3.5T, and while they aren't all in this category, I don't think it's unreasonable (if you are Joe Manchin) to say: please tell me what this bullet point intends to spend money on, how it'll actually do it, and why it's a good investment?
I'm not enamored of the filibuster per se, but I'm deeply skeptical of the take that eliminating it will contribute to breaking gridlock through successful centrist legislating, rather than empowering an even more destructive partisan pendulum. It seems just as likely that the parties circle the wagons around agendas with zero overlap whatsoever and yank the country back and forth until it goes entirely off the rails. The gridlock in response to party polarization is a feature of the system not a bug. The system is intended to constrain legislation within pluralistically acceptable bounds, not hand unchecked powers to whatever coalition can cobble together 51% support at any given moment.
"ideally addressing not only congressional elections but state legislatures, too."
I mean, we can all dream, but there's zero chance the supreme court would let congress make rules for state legislature districts.
"Last week, Joe Manchin pumped the breaks on Democrats’ legislative agenda....
Brakes, for heaven's sake. Brakes.
We'll see how serious Dems are about raising the taxes on rich people when they either repeal or keep the SALT deduction caps. A repeal of the cap really would signify the party is for rich, snobbish people that live in big (high tax) cities.
I'm curious how to reconcile the recent Weeds podcast where Matt and David Shor discussed the public being mostly change resistant with the desire to remove the filibuster. My read is that the filibuster allows the public to vote more progressive than it actually is because they assume the government won't/can't make radical change. If you remove the filibuster and actually have one wave election create the potential for much more radical change, I think the public will be much more likely to vote conservative.
E.g. Britain has that capacity and has been Conservative for 70% of the time over the last 40 years - and the period of Labour control was under Tony Blair a VERY moderate Labour leader.
"But precisely because he’s the key actor here, he’s the one who ought to be talking about which measures he does believe in strongly enough to push on a party-line vote.
But he’s not, and his intransigence isn’t a coherent theory of political change any more than the left’s."
Manchin can't name the measures because he does not 'believe' in any of them. He will sign only on those bills (Dem or otherwise) that will not diminish his changes of keeping his seat in a red state. He will go with ANY bill that can get some red votes (to cover his bases), ideology be damned. Contrast that to the Left's view, "Give us the bill/Ideology, votes be damned".
It's kind of hilarious how these simple truths don't penetrate the titanium bubble of those who genuinely believe the status quo Senate rules "force compromise".
One truism of our era is that nothing in the real world--not wars, not disease, not even actual politicians' record--budge people from the fortress silos of priors they built decades ago. Self-described "independents" and "moderates" are as bad as the worst partisans and then some on that.