News and Commentary

To Protect the Filibuster, Republicans Should Only Use the Nuclear Option 96 Times

The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. – Ayn Rand.

As a classical liberal, I am a big defender of minority rights (which in this case has nothing to do with race). Our brilliant Constitution was set up in large part to defend the rights of the minority by making majority rule nearly impossible. Simply put, you do not want to live in a country where 50% +1 gives the winners the right to do anything they wish.

To protect the minority from the bulldozer of majority rule, the Bill of Rights was created, as were super majorities required to amend the Constitution, as were the three branches of government, as was the filibuster that gives one U.S. Senator the power to require 60 votes to pass anything into law.

The best example of the hideousness that can come from majority rule is ObamaCare. At the time of its passage, Democrats enjoyed a filibuster-proof majority of 60 Senators. To make this failed monstrosity the law of the land, the minority was ignored and, yes, bulldozed. The result is the most unpopular entitlement in history, a fascist mandate that requires every American to buy an overpriced product from a corporation, millions lost the insurance they liked, and we are now living with an explosion of costs.

These brilliant safeguards to protect the minority are intentionally in place to slow things down, to ensure a feverish “we won!” mentality doesn’t punish the rest of us. This is also why we have an Electoral College. The last thing a vast country like ours wants is a Chief Executive chosen by majority rule. Like our system of representative democracy, the Electoral College isn’t perfect but it is the best idea mankind has come up with so far. Basically, it ensures as much of the country as possible is represented by its president, not just high population areas.

As far as the Senate filibuster, an unfortunate reality is that it is not protected by the Constitution. Without going into all the tedious history, all you really need to know is that this important safeguard is more of a Senate tradition than a rule or law, and that the overriding of this tradition is known as the Nuclear Option.

For about a decade, both Republicans and Democrats have threatened the use of the Nuclear Option. It wasn’t until 2013, though, that then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and 51 of his fellow Democrats pressed the red button, and as a result, 96 of Obama’s judges infested America’s judiciary over the objections of the minority. By removing the filibuster, Reid and Obama altered our judiciary for a generation. Who knows what else would have passed a filibuster-less Senate had Republicans not captured that chamber the following year.

Not only is the Nuclear Option immoral and un-American, it set a precedent that Democrats are now quaking over. Republicans have seized the presidency, enjoy a majority in the Senate, and there is a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, as well as Trump’s cabinet. The stakes could not be bigger.

The only way to honor the filibuster, to protect it, is to make Democrats pay for opening Pandora’s Box.

My advice to Republicans on this issue is this…

The only way to honor the filibuster, to protect it, is to make Democrats pay for opening Pandora’s Box.

Democrats used the Nuclear Option as a means to allow Obama to make 96 appointments. Therefore, to teach Democrats a lesson that will hopefully dissuade them from ever again engaging in this destructive behavior, but — and this is important — to not escalate the matter, Senate Republicans should only use the this option to allow President Trump to make 96 appointments.

Undoubtedly, some on the political right will make the case that we should stand on some lofty principle and not “lower ourselves” by pressing the button, but this would be seen by Democrats (and their media allies) only as a pathetically weak act of political suicide and unilateral disarmament. So…

As many times as Democrats use the nuclear option, Republicans should use it.

No more, no less.

This will teach Democrats (and their national media cheerleaders) that there are consequences for their actions, but at the same time it always puts the escalation ball in their court.

My only goal here is to protect the filibuster. If someone else has a better idea, I am all ears.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC