Democrat base demands 'dumbest' filibuster in Senate history

The Democrats' expected filibuster of Judge Neil Gorsuch may be the "dumbest" in the Senate's history, as Rich Lowry writes at the New York Post, but it's all about keeping their agitated base at bay.

Nate Silver, writing at fivethirtyeight.com, as posted at Real Clear Politics, makes the case that while the "Democrats' political endgame is unclear" the Gorsuch filibuster "may simply be a sign of the liberal base's increasing influence over the Democratic coalition."

Based on data from an outside "Election Study," Silver finds that 69 percent of "politically active Democrats," defined as those who donated, went to meetings, put up signs, and the like, "identified as liberal."

These were some of the voters who helped propel Bernie Sanders to almost two dozen primary and caucus victories last year.

Silver's article includes a state-by-state table showing the 23 Democrat senators up for re-election in 2018 (plus two independents) alongside estimates for the liberal base in each state.

The table shows that in 30 of 50 states, more than two thirds of politically active Democrats identified as liberals.  In addition, seven of the ten Trump-state Democrats up for re-election are from those 30 states.

In a Trump-state like Montana, where Democrat Jon Tester is up for re-election and has said he will vote against Gorsuch, 76 percent of the active Democratic base identifies as liberal.  Silver explains that Montana and other red states tend to have a higher share of liberals among their Democrats:

It's not that Idaho and Utah are blue states, obviously; they're among the most Republican in the country. Nonetheless – perhaps because a lot of moderate voters identify with the GOP in these states – the few Democrats that remain are overwhelmingly liberal.

Regarding Senator Tester, Silver observes:

Nonetheless, he'll be relying on his base for money, volunteers and a high turnout on Election Day. In Montana, the conservatives are conservative – but the Democratic base is fairly liberal also.

North Dakota and West Virginia have lower shares of liberals among Democrats, according to Silver, possibly explaining why Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin plan to support Judge Gorsuch:

But Heitkamp and Manchin probably face more risk from the general election than from a loss of support among their base.

While Mr. Silver provides a numerical rationale for the Democrats' urge to filibuster, some left-leaning pundits, also posted at Real Clear Politics, seem to be grasping at straws to justify a futile attempt at a filibuster.

A CNN column by Julian Zelizer contends that the Gorsuch filibuster "could turn out to be a defining moment for the party in its struggle against the Trump presidency."

Zelizer seems to discount the possibility of the nuclear option, adding:

Stopping Gorsuch, shortly after the collapse of American Health Care Act, would be a massive victory for the party and stimulate the kind of activism that pushed many Republicans away from repealing Obamacare. It would be a defining issue to get Democratic voters out in the midterm election and improve the possibility of a wave election, which becomes more likely with every drip from the Russia scandal.

Note the reliance on the "Russia scandal" to fuel a Democrat wave election.

The Nation's Ari Berman posits "five good reasons" to push the filibuster, starting with the "stolen seat" and adding these:

We know enough about Gorsuch to surmise that he was nominated by Donald Trump to be a smooth-talking advocate on the bench for a far-right ideology.

... The fourth reason is that the president who nominated Gorsuch is under FBI investigation for colluding with Russia, which casts further doubt on the legitimacy of this process.

Not content with the dumbest filibuster in history, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer proposes a constitutionally novel solution that would be laughable if he weren't serious:

So instead of changing the rules, which is up to Mitch McConnell and the Republican majority, why doesn't [sic] President Trump, Democrats, and Republicans in the Senate, sit down, and try to come up with a mainstream nominee?

The hand-wringing over the filibuster belies the fact that the filibuster is largely an anachronism that has long outlived its usefulness.  Former White House press secretary Ari Fleisher, quoted at newsmax.com, contends that the opposing sides in the Senate have "tied each other in knots" with a once "rarely-used device" that is now "used standardly":

Its meaning has been distorted. The purpose of it has been obliterated. It is now the device that teaches people that if you get elected to the Senate your job is to block and oppose. It's not to get anything done, and that's the problem.

You're pointing it out when a reasonable man like Neil Gorsuch can't even get 60 votes because of the Democrat objections. What makes you think anything can get 60 votes? So what are we going to do, wait until the next election?

While the Democrats' endgame may be unclear, the endgame for the filibuster may be at hand.

The Democrats' expected filibuster of Judge Neil Gorsuch may be the "dumbest" in the Senate's history, as Rich Lowry writes at the New York Post, but it's all about keeping their agitated base at bay.

Nate Silver, writing at fivethirtyeight.com, as posted at Real Clear Politics, makes the case that while the "Democrats' political endgame is unclear" the Gorsuch filibuster "may simply be a sign of the liberal base's increasing influence over the Democratic coalition."

Based on data from an outside "Election Study," Silver finds that 69 percent of "politically active Democrats," defined as those who donated, went to meetings, put up signs, and the like, "identified as liberal."

These were some of the voters who helped propel Bernie Sanders to almost two dozen primary and caucus victories last year.

Silver's article includes a state-by-state table showing the 23 Democrat senators up for re-election in 2018 (plus two independents) alongside estimates for the liberal base in each state.

The table shows that in 30 of 50 states, more than two thirds of politically active Democrats identified as liberals.  In addition, seven of the ten Trump-state Democrats up for re-election are from those 30 states.

In a Trump-state like Montana, where Democrat Jon Tester is up for re-election and has said he will vote against Gorsuch, 76 percent of the active Democratic base identifies as liberal.  Silver explains that Montana and other red states tend to have a higher share of liberals among their Democrats:

It's not that Idaho and Utah are blue states, obviously; they're among the most Republican in the country. Nonetheless – perhaps because a lot of moderate voters identify with the GOP in these states – the few Democrats that remain are overwhelmingly liberal.

Regarding Senator Tester, Silver observes:

Nonetheless, he'll be relying on his base for money, volunteers and a high turnout on Election Day. In Montana, the conservatives are conservative – but the Democratic base is fairly liberal also.

North Dakota and West Virginia have lower shares of liberals among Democrats, according to Silver, possibly explaining why Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin plan to support Judge Gorsuch:

But Heitkamp and Manchin probably face more risk from the general election than from a loss of support among their base.

While Mr. Silver provides a numerical rationale for the Democrats' urge to filibuster, some left-leaning pundits, also posted at Real Clear Politics, seem to be grasping at straws to justify a futile attempt at a filibuster.

A CNN column by Julian Zelizer contends that the Gorsuch filibuster "could turn out to be a defining moment for the party in its struggle against the Trump presidency."

Zelizer seems to discount the possibility of the nuclear option, adding:

Stopping Gorsuch, shortly after the collapse of American Health Care Act, would be a massive victory for the party and stimulate the kind of activism that pushed many Republicans away from repealing Obamacare. It would be a defining issue to get Democratic voters out in the midterm election and improve the possibility of a wave election, which becomes more likely with every drip from the Russia scandal.

Note the reliance on the "Russia scandal" to fuel a Democrat wave election.

The Nation's Ari Berman posits "five good reasons" to push the filibuster, starting with the "stolen seat" and adding these:

We know enough about Gorsuch to surmise that he was nominated by Donald Trump to be a smooth-talking advocate on the bench for a far-right ideology.

... The fourth reason is that the president who nominated Gorsuch is under FBI investigation for colluding with Russia, which casts further doubt on the legitimacy of this process.

Not content with the dumbest filibuster in history, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer proposes a constitutionally novel solution that would be laughable if he weren't serious:

So instead of changing the rules, which is up to Mitch McConnell and the Republican majority, why doesn't [sic] President Trump, Democrats, and Republicans in the Senate, sit down, and try to come up with a mainstream nominee?

The hand-wringing over the filibuster belies the fact that the filibuster is largely an anachronism that has long outlived its usefulness.  Former White House press secretary Ari Fleisher, quoted at newsmax.com, contends that the opposing sides in the Senate have "tied each other in knots" with a once "rarely-used device" that is now "used standardly":

Its meaning has been distorted. The purpose of it has been obliterated. It is now the device that teaches people that if you get elected to the Senate your job is to block and oppose. It's not to get anything done, and that's the problem.

You're pointing it out when a reasonable man like Neil Gorsuch can't even get 60 votes because of the Democrat objections. What makes you think anything can get 60 votes? So what are we going to do, wait until the next election?

While the Democrats' endgame may be unclear, the endgame for the filibuster may be at hand.