Last week the senate controlled by the Democrats took the unprecedented step of changing senate rules so that judicial appointments now only require fifty-one votes to be confirmed. For the past two hundred and fifty years that threshold has been sixty votes. Watching the news last week, I noticed political pundits went on extensively about the meaning and impact of this unprecedented step. While the change may not seem earthshaking, the results in coming years will be profound. Regardless of the consequences of this action, only pundits and true political wonks will care, I fear. The true impact however takes place after it’s too late to do anything to stop it.
Before going into the ramifications that this naked power grab represents; I think that it is worthwhile to define what the rule change is and what is impacted. First of all, the rule change only effects presidential appointments, excluding the Supreme Court of the United States. In other words the filibuster is still in place with regard to other legislation and the Supreme Court must still follow the traditional path with regard to constitutional requirement that the senate provide its advice and consent. For this reason, I have had a couple of people ask me what difference it really makes. Doesn’t a president deserve the right to appoint the nominees of his choosing? Didn’t the Republican Party under President George Bush threaten to do the exact same thing for exactly the same reason? Generally, all things being equal, I would say that a president does deserve his nominees and yes, the Republicans did threaten to do the same thing.
The problem I have with these two points is that all things are not in fact equal. For one thing, today the United States has a seventeen-trillion dollar debt, civil liberties are being destroyed, the federal government is ignoring the US Constitution, and the true unemployment rate is over thirteen percent, with young black males suffering the worst with over twenty-eight percent unemployment. For another, the Republicans threatened to change the rules, but anyone who is paying attention is aware that they didn’t change the rules, did they? Mr. Bush was guilty of pushing unwanted government on Americans too, but the current occupant of the White House is doubled down on Mr. Bush’s federal government over-reaches on an unprecedented scale.
The party in power has the absolute right to do a lot of things while they rule. This rule change could have been enacted at any time in our history, yet it wasn’t. The United States Senate operated under the sixty vote filibuster rule through the Civil War, both world wars, the Vietnam War, and the War on Terror. I hardly think that any of these periods in American history were without controversy or disagreement regarding presidential appointments. The problem as I see it today is that the world is approaching a nexus in history. Although I believe that life’s pressures do cause history to repeat itself, we are not on a merry-go-round, we are in fact moving through time in a linear manner. Key events do matter.
The problem with the Democrat Party taking this action now is that it unveils a clear strategy on their part to rule with no regard to the wishes of millions or American citizens. This rule change will allow the President to change the makeup of the court, and or the ability to seat truly radical federal judges that will be in their positions for life. Let me ask you something. Is it a good idea or a bad idea to allow a president who has repeatedly expressed the willingness to go around congress with executive order the ability to stack the courts with appointees that may well support his extra-constitutional excesses? The framers of the constitution specifically split power up amongst three branches and between the federal government and the states for a reason. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely.
It seems to me that Rome went down a very similar path. The Romans fought for freedom, established a republic, and became wildly successful. Then, after a few generations of being the world’s only super-power, the culture became decadent. Larger and larger numbers of Romans began to feel disenfranchised and the upper classes becoming lazy as the work ethic declined. Eventually, it just didn’t mean that much to later generations to be a Roman citizen. The moral decline in Rome is obvious. We can see it represented in literature, and in public events such as took place in the Coliseum. In a word, Roman lifestyles were more and more about instant gratification, gratuitous sex, and violence. Any of this sound familiar?
Productivity declined causing the relative cost of government and the military to skyrocket. Supporting the bloated cost of regulation and security became an ever increasing burden to the middle class, yet the entitlement culture in Rome demanded ever-increasing benefits, exacerbating Rome’s problems. As it is today, some sectors of Roman society were under taxed while others faced confiscatory taxation. It is today as it was then, all too easy to distract the masses by fomenting economic class warfare, pitting the rich against the poor. Citizen’s allegiance to Rome diminished, and many supported the rise of a strong-man government over the individual responsibility inherent in a republic.
My point in this little jaunt through history is that when a culture declines it becomes very attractive for the ruling class to change the rules when events begin to become unmanageable. Phoenix Republic is about western culture becoming unmanageable because it is simply too broken in too many places. The culture in the twenty-first century United States is fragmented. Millions of Americans feel that someone owes them something while millions more still cling desperately to the notions of individual, responsibility, and hard work.
By voting to change the filibuster rule with regard to appointments, the Democrats are poised to rubber-stamp judicial and senior administrative appointees with no consideration given to the minority party. This move thus effectively silences the voices of millions of Americans who oppose Democrat’s progressive agenda of transforming this country. In other words, I believe it’s credible to say that the United States is now transforming from a Republic into an Empire. Every time the United States Constitution is disregarded for the sake of convenience or so-called safety, representative government is diminished.
Think about it. How is an oligarchy of progressive leaders who dismiss the rights of citizens substantively different than the Roman Triumvirates that led to the end of that previous world super power?