In a decent world—which is to say not in this one—a Republican U.S. Senate majority after a future election might undo the havoc wrought by Harry Reid and his fanatical Democrats last Thursday and restore the protection of minority rights that was part of the Senate’s internal governance structure for more than two centuries.
But a sane Republican majority wouldn’t dare. They would owe it to the country not to do the right thing.
Coverage and commentary on Thursday’s brutish power grab has fixated on ending use of the filibuster to delay confirmation of most presidential appointees. But the harm goes even deeper than that.
It’s now established that any rule of the Senate can be changed at any time by a simple majority vote.
The plain meaning of this is that now there are no rules, because whenever one gets in the way of the leftist agenda, Democrats will feel free to sweep it out of the way. To call this the behavior of a banana republic is to insult the civic institutions of banana republics.
There should perhaps be no surprise, given a Senate majority and executive branch that pay no deference to the laws even they themselves have recently enacted. Nevertheless it’s worth quoting the current chief executive’s words on the Senate floor in 2005, when a Republican majority backed away from the action he lobbied his Democrats to undertake last week:
No majority party, he said, should “change the rules in the middle of the game so they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet.”
To do the right thing in respect for so dishonorable an adversary would be suicidal. Ruthless partisanship is the last remaining defense against lawlessness and chaos.