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Time running out on Republican intransigence

12/11/2013, 12:30 p.m.
The Republicans seem to be more interested in opposing President Barack Obama than in benefiting the American people. The Democrats ...
“It’s downright undemocratic to end the filibuster we’ve been using to block Obama”

The Republicans seem to be more interested in opposing President Barack Obama than in benefiting the American people. The Democrats were justified in deflating the conservative’s strategy by restricting the filibuster rules in the U.S. Senate.

The U.S. Senate is considered by some to be the world’s most deliberative democratic body. With two members from each of the 50 states, the senators must approve all legislation and provide its “advice and consent” to the president in the selection of federal judges, ambassadors and heads of executive agencies including cabinet members.

The rules of the Senate provide each of the 100 members with extraordinary power. Any senator may hold up a measure before the body by refusing to yield the floor. This so called filibuster can be ended by a measure called cloture that requires 60 votes to prevail.

However, since the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Senate rules are subject to majority rule, the majority leader of the Senate has the authority to move that a rule requiring more than a majority vote is unconstitutional. Such a move is referred to as the nuclear option because it defies the comity of the Senate. On Nov. 21, Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, moved to end the right to filibuster on nominations for judges and the appointment of administration executives. And his motion carried 52 to 48.

It comes as no surprise that the mass media was more concerned with the reaction of Republican senators than with providing a lucid account of how circumstances reached this level. Everyone has read that Republican Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell said angrily, “I say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, you’ll regret this. And you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.” How many remember that on Jan. 20, 2009, the same day as Obama’s first inauguration, a group of prominent Republican congressmen met to lay plans to derail Obama’s presidency?

Since then there has been an unbridled effort to deny the Obama administration any achievements. One strategy was to use the filibuster to prevent the approval by the Senate of the executives Obama needs to implement his programs. The filibuster was always considered to be a rare tactic to prevent a vote on legislation or the appointment of a judge or a government official. However, according to some tallies there have been about the same number of filibusters during the Obama administration as the total under all prior presidents.

Conservatives have also shown considerable enmity toward Obama. The “birthers” have falsely asserted that Obama is not a native-born American and is therefore constitutionally unqualified to be president. Despite his confessed Christianity, some critics insist that Obama is a Muslim. And other critics have insulted Obama in a way that is historically disrespectful of the Office of the President of the United States. Few Republicans have openly criticized this conduct.

There is little open discussion of the possibility that much of the hostility is racially motivated. The risk of being branded a racist is so great that substantial individuals avoid such discussions. However, it is obvious that the plutocrats’ loss of control of the government might well generate considerable racial animosity.

The black vote for Obama in the last election was overwhelming at 93 percent, and African Americans voted in greater numbers than any other ethnic group. The Asian and Hispanic votes for Obama were also substantial at 72 percent and 71 percent. Also, the Republican vote was primarily older white males. Among all young voters, 18 to 29, the Obama vote was 60 percent. With the total population becoming increasingly more minority, the racial balance in America will soon shift permanently.

The only wise approach for the conservatives is to stop the race baiting that alienates minorities and prove to everyone that the values of democracy and free enterprise that built the nation are the best for everyone to adopt. Time is running out.