I watched Evan Bayh this morning and I was left a little bit speechless. He went on with Andrea Mitchell today and seemed to pull back from whining about the liberal bloggers and focused a little more on what the real problems in the House of Lords (Senate) are. He absolutely wants to change the filibuster because it's not allowing the party that won the election the chance to legislate.
BAYH: I go back to my father’s time, the great civil rights debates. The filibuster was being used to frustrate some basic, fundamental equities in this country. So the threshold was 67 votes in those days. They reduced it to 60. Now it’s being routinely used to frustrate even low-level Presidential appointees. So perhaps the threshold should be lowered once again.
MITCHELL: Would you propose steps, would you lead an effort in the Senate to change the filibuster rule?
BAYH: You know, I would… (crosstalk) Well, that’s right, but Tom Harkin and others have talked about this. I think it’s something we need to do, perhaps looking at changing the threshold once again, down to 55. Perhaps saying that, Administration appointees, other than the very highest ones, should not be subject to the filibuster. Because it’s just brought the process to a halt, and the public is suffering. So the minority needs to have a right. I think that’s important. But the public has a right to see its business done. And not routinely allow a small minority to keep us from addressing the great issues that face this country. I think the filibuster absolutely needs to be changed.
I was actually stunned that he didn't blame the dirty hippies for wanting to expand Medicare or the liberal support for the public option, but he actually blamed Republican obstructionism the whole time. And to think that he would like to lower the filibuster to 55 really was shocking to me. He's like a lot of the royal ones. He wouldn't say any of this while he was in the Senate, but now that he left suddenly it's fine to get somewhat honest. I do applaud him for getting this sentiment out there, since the media is always slow to the dance.
d-day saw it too.
However, this was important for a variety of reasons. Bayh here finally cited the MEANS by which all these abstract concepts of “partisanship” and “gridlock” get their purchase. Before he sounded like a self-important blowhard assuming the superiority of his “centrist” policy ideas, as if partisanship hasn’t been a function of American government since its founding.
Here, he actually identifies the problem – fix the process and suddenly the problems of gridlock start to melt away. And he actually manages to offer a pretty good case for majority rule – the public, who selects its representatives, has a right to see its will expressed after it delivers a mandate.