The Fillibuster and Change

There’s been a healthy amount of talk lately about eliminating the fillibuster, which I agree with. That said, I think Kevin Drum is being a little naive here:

But look: only a handful of Bush’s judges were successfully filibustered.  Social Security reform never even came up for a vote.  But even conceding that, yes, there would be some short-term pain from conservative rule in a filibuster-less world, in the long run the filibuster is bad for liberalism because liberals are fundamentally in favor of change and the filibuster is fundamentally obstructiveIt’s well suited for a movement that wants to stand athwart history and yell “Stop!” but less well suited to a movement that has a positive agenda revolving around the enactment of ambitious new social programs.

Regardless of differing articulated ideologies regarding the role of the state, conservatives definitely do have a positive agenda (in the sense that it is an active agenda) that generally revolves around manipulating the powers of the state to serve the interests of those they represent. This can mean anything from easing the income tax burden on the rich, to reducing health care costs by providing less care, to making it illegal for women to receive abortions. As Dean Baker will happily point out, conservatives espousal of the virtue of “small government”  doesn’t actually translate to anything of the sort. Liberals should be cautious of buying into the notion that the a) that conservatives envision a more limited role of the state and b) conservatives are defenders of the status quo.

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