Thursday, June 20, 2013

We the People

Speaking of filibusters, I just heard Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, the keynote speaker at Netroots Nation in San Jose this year, talk about how Senate rules must be changed this year if the Republican minority in the Senate refuses to confirm some critical Executive Branch and judicial appointments. In response to the fears that some members have expressed about the possible loss of this tool should Democrats find themselves in the minority in two or four or however many years, Merkley asked the audience if they had any doubts that a future Majority Leader McConnell would hesitate to change the rules on filibusters of presidential appointments if he found himself in a similar position to the position in which Democrats currently find themselves in the Senate. And if McConnell is going to change the Senate rules anyway when he gets the chance, why shouldn't Democrats do it now when they will get the benefit of speeding President Obama's appointments through the Senate, way too many of whom have been delayed by an obstreperous minority party. I guess that explains why Senator McConnell had to up the ante by threatening to eliminate filibusters altogether, as described in my previous post.

Merkley's theme was that reforming the filibuster is only one of the changes needed to restore the people's control of their government, and allow it to serve the people's needs. Another major change is to overturn by Constitutional amendment the Citizens United decision allowing unlimited amounts of secret money to influence our elections. 

Anyway, I was concerned that this being an off year, and with all the disgruntlement at phony White House scandals, there might be more than the usual negativity at Netroots this year. That hasn't proven to be the case, except maybe for one jerk picketing the exhibition hall with a ridiculous sign equating Obama with Cheney. In general, the attitude here more seems to be taking the president for granted, and looking beyond his lame duck term. The focus is on moving forward with the progressive agenda: health care, education, gay rights, improving the environment and the economy, etc. But the president did pop in for a visit by video, and was given a fairly enthusiastic round of applause.

Next year in Detroit!

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