Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate hierarchy, seems open to filibuster reform judging by his remarks to TPM DC’s Brian Beutler:
“Here we were with amendments on Wall Street reform. 28 amendments by majority vote. I want to offer an amendment on credit card fees, and they say, ‘Oh that’ll be 60.’ Well where did that come from?” Durbin said.
Durbin’s amendment ultimately passed, but, he said, “the 60 was designed for me to lose. I won instead.”
“But the point is, if you can just out of the blue say, ‘Uh that’s not a majority, that’s 60,’ and not have any basis other than if you don’t we’ll filibuster, it really reaches the point where this place isn’t on the square. And I think it should be.”
Leadership offices don’t “matter” in the vain & egomaniacal Senate the same way they do in the House of Representatives, so Durbin’s thinking won’t necessarily have a ton of pull. But it does show that there’s some momentum behind this idea.
I think that if you want to talk about the counterproductive nature of progressive apathy then you have to talk about this filibuster reform effort. It’s 100 percent true that progressive policy becomes less likely, rather than more likely, if progressives become cynical, apathetic, disillusioned, and blind to the very real achievements of the 111th Congress. But at the same time, there’s an iterative relationship between political leaders and their supporters. Leaders can’t just point to the policy accomplishments of yore and say “stop whining” they need to join with activists in fighting for further change. Appointing Elizabeth Warren would boost morale, and beginning to organize for reform of Senate procedure would as well. If you tell people “we did the best we could, but the structure of the Senate hemmed us in” then people get depressed. If you say “we did the best we could but the structure of the Senate hemmed us in and that’s why I’m fighting to reform the Senate and deliver the reforms we all believe in” then people have something to hang on to.