I just got off a blogger conference call with Senator Schumer of New York, talking about the “nuclear option” in which the Republicans are trying to remove the right of the Senate Minority party to filibsuster. I want to write at length about this later, but right now I have a pesky “day job” situation that I should be attending to so I’ll be brief.
First, from my notes, Sen. Schumer says that we are on the “eve of a precipice – one of the major Constitutional crisis of last 100 years.” He says that in return for the far right keeping the public pressure down – they were publicly critical of Dole and Bush’s father, for example, which harmed them in their runs for the Presidency – Bush would hand judicial appointments over to the Right. He says that “Bush has turned over mechanism of picking judges to the federalist society.”
In response to a potential loss on the “nuclear option” Democrats are “not going to slow down the Senate, nor bring it to a grinding halt. They will use every senate rule they can to wrest the agenda from the majority. In the past it is comity that …” and here he was called to the Senate floor, but he was going to say that as part of the traditional comity of the Senate the Minority party allows the Majority to set the Senate’s agenda, and that will cease and the Democrats will start introducing their own agenda items, such as raising the Minimum Wage, and force the Republicans to a public vote on such bills as the Democrats have written them. What this means is that any talk you hear from The Party (my term for the Republican Party and all of its tentacles of propaganda and control: think tanks, Fox News, Limbaugh, etc.) about “obstruction” is just another lie. (Yes, Virginia, they lie.)
My quote of the day came when I asked if the Republicans lose, what will they try next in their unceasing drive to achieve absolute power? “Who would ever have thought that the Vice President could rule from the chair – it’s like a banana republic.” I don’t have the exact quote for what he said next but he went on to say the Republicans appear to think they can just say the Constitution means this or that and there’s nothing we can do about it…
So, here we are. This could well be a week that is talked about in history classes for 100 years or more. If it turns out that the Republicans are able to seize the last check and balance that is in place there will be nothing to stop them from implementing their entire agenda. And I think the key to helping the public understand the consequences of this is our own understanding and talking about what this means to people’s lives rather than talking about it in technical terms of things they will implement, or issues, or “taking us back 100 years.” I think we need to talk about the Right’s agenda in terms of pensions disappearing, and birth control being made illegal again, and companies like AOL being able to charge your credit card long after you tried to cancel their service… and your dying mother being forced to live on a breathing machine no matter what she wanted.
More later. Watch your backs.
Update – Other bloggers writing about the call. I’ll update this:
TalkLeft: Conference Call With Sen. Schumer
Swing State Project: Nuclear Option
Daily Kos: Schumer Talk Before His Floor Speech
BOPNews: Negotiating the Nuclear Option