Kansas Progress Institute

Ad Astra Per Aspera ~ To the Stars Through Difficulties

Anti-filibustering Centrism

Posted on April 3, 2017

By David Burress

The ambient arguments against filibustering Gorsuch display all the worst features of craven centrism.


Now I get it that Democrats in marginal Senate seats might think a vote for Gorsuch and/or for breaking the filibuster could save their hide. I also get it that they can’t come right out and say that. I also get it that they have to give centristic arguments to cover their surrender to the forces of darkness. Nevertheless the arguments they and the editorial writers use against using the filibuster are disgusting.

1. “We need to save the filibuster, and the Republicans will exercise the nuclear option if we use it.”
How stupid can you get? The claim is that we would lose it if we use it, meaning there is no good reason to save it in the first place. What more important use for it than defending existence of a rational Supreme Court, by rejecting Grouch

2. Civility and forbearance and good citizenship and fair play and compromise and meeting the other side half way.
In other words, Democrats should roll over and play dead to to Republicans who filibustered Obama’s appointment in order to allow Trump to flip the Court. Why they are at, why not just resign from Congress?

3. “Trump will make a worse appointment if we stop this one.”
No he won’t, because he can’t. Gorsuch is determined to vote against progressive positions every chance he gets, and he is going to make persuasive sounding arguments for it. The Neanderthals waiting in the wings would vote the same way but make outrageously bad arguments for it. I think that would be less effective for the right wing than Gorsuch’s approach would be.
And in any case, Democrats could make two filibusters stick. Or as many as needed to pull the same stunt the Republicans pulled, using the same rationale: this President is not long for this office.

4. “Gorsuch is highly qualified.”
The worst thing in the world is a highly qualified villain. They do more damage than the other kind.
We do not need formal qualifications in a SCOTUS judge. We need wisdom and compassion and judicial temperament.

5. “We need to allow Gorsuch in order to hold on to the Senate in 2018.”
In other words, the party that keeps losing because it stands for nothing thinks it can win by continuing to stand for nothing, while running against a party that actually stands for something and keeps winning on that basis.
“Not as bad as the other guy” is a losing slogan. It didn’t even quite work against Trump, the worst major party candidate in American history.


The most significant electoral setback to the radical right we have seen happened right here in Kansas in 2016, when moderates took over the statehouse. It happened because Democrats and moderate Republicans ran on platforms of overturning the failed Brownback fiscal policies. They openly stood for increasing taxes, and it worked. Any political party that wants to win, and any candidate for that matter, needs to stand for something in 2018.

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