by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
This political drama finally ended on Wednesday night, when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer forced a vote on blowing up the Senate, knowing it would fail. And fail it did. Astoundingly, he wanted to put every senator on the record, including several who would have preferred to let this issue slide by, on the question of breaking the chamber’s rules in order to re-write the nation’s election laws – on a party-line vote, with zero Republican buy-in or input, allowing zero amendments to be introduced or debated on the Democrat-only scheme. Re-read that sentence. It’s actually insane. And it was all done in the name of “democracy” and “voting rights.” It went down 48-52, with just two Senate Democrats voting to maintain the filibuster, a minority rights tool employed hundreds of times by Senate Democrats in recent years; they even mounted one last week.
The fact that this extraordinary and short-sighted power grab failed is comforting. The margin, however, was not. The attempt, and the resulting relatively close shave, must not be forgotten. If Senate Democrats are able to build a larger majority by adding even just a handful of seats, they have made clear that their previous positions and impassioned speeches will mean absolutely nothing. The next time they believe they have the chance to empower themselves and advance their leftist agenda, they will detonate the nuclear option. Upcoming Senate elections, therefore, have incredibly high stakes. The Democratic Party has become the power-at-all-costs, ends-justify-the-means, anti-institutions party, and they must be treated as such. It’s not just this episode. It’s a long arc of unilateral, escalatory abuses.
Thankfully, the institution of the Senate, and its deliberative “cooling saucer” role, was saved this week. Every Republican defended the institution, but two people are primarily responsible for this sigh-of-relief outcome: West Virginia’s Sen. Joe Manchin, and Arizona’s Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.