Jim Crow Senate

Getting back to this specific topic, for the life of me I can’t figure out why the 60-vote filibuster rule in the U.S. Senate has become this sacrosanct thing, a threat to be used on every occasion that a proposal comes before it.

In majority rule, 50 plus one wins. We call these votes “close”. But the idea is that more people’s representatives voted in favor of something than not, and so the bill passes.

In my lifetime of, let’s see, nine presidents (Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, old man Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama), I never remember a time when the filibuster threat was put forth so brazenly as the Republican Party has been doing it since Obama got in.

And maybe not-so-coincidentally, it seems to have something to do with the fact that the voting strength of the Republicans, the base as it is, is in the Southern states of the Confederacy, and a handful of tag-alongs that came into America as states after the Civil War.

This week, everyone is parsing the results of the Massachusetts special senate election. An election in a state that is, admittedly, not part of the Old Confederacy. There’s a lot of talk about how the loss was a reflection on the President not delivering to the working class or middle class voters. For being out-of-touch with their concerns.

And to top it off, he’s got this small insurrection developing on the Blogging Left, like at FireDogLake, which is quickly turning into FriendlyFireDogLake. Although they are making some worthwhile points there, I want to let other people make those points.

What I am fascinated by is how Barack Obama is being put up against what seem to be Jim Crow Rules in the U.S. Senate. It’s like they don’t want a black man to succeed as President.

I am saying this as a white guy (look at those sneakers) now, and frankly—and like I’ve said quite a few times on this site—I have no patience for the limousine liberal elitist and politically correct wings of the Democratic Party. I am more like a Northern Whig, if you know anything about U.S. history, with an abolitionist streak. And a bit of 20th century immigrant populism / New Dealism thrown in. I was not even an early Barack Obama supporter, I had to be convinced. But I voted for him because he’s a good guy.

The Republicans constant obstruction is going right to the heart of fair play in American society. They should let the President and the majority Democrats have their program, and they can either help or get out of the way. What they are doing instead looks like a Southern elitist rehash of what the scene must have been like at the voting booth in 1925:

“Boy, why are you here at the town hall today?”

“Suh, I means to vote.”

“Well, uh, ah don’t think you’ve done paid your poll tax yet, and I don’t recall seein’ yo name on the official votin’ list! So why don’t you just best be movin’ along.”

“But . . . but . . .”

Only now it’s, “Sonny, whyyyyyy if yah wanna pass somethin’ thru this here august Senate, yah neeeeed 60 votes!” Sixty votes when it’s the black president, and, ehem, 51 when it’s a white president . . . and special reconciliation rules to make it even easier if it’s a Republican white President from the South.

The Senate should let the President have his policy and, if the electorate is displeased in the fall, let the voters speak. They shouldn’t be doing what they have been since the man got in office.