The Senate is so divided over Donald Trump’s nominee, that people are worried about a nuclear option.
The nuclear option is only metaphorical, but people are worried that the way our government operates will be lastingly damaged. Politico reports,
The Senate is careening toward a historic change to its filibuster rules that takes it one step closer to a version of the majority-rule House of Representatives.
But no one seems to care enough to save the Senate from itself.
Unlike past institutional crises, there’s no bipartisan “gang” stepping up to force a truce between the warring armies led by Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer. Acrimony between the two parties has become so routine that invoking the so-called nuclear option to get Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court is almost a ho-hum affair, assumed to be a done deal.
“The Senate has changed,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who’s fought rules changes in the past. “You can’t do what we used to do, what I did in the past. There’s too much ill will.”
“There’s a lot of shared concern about our direction,” added Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, one of the few Democrats willing to bargain with Republicans to maintain the filibuster. “But there’s not yet a willingness to make any of the actual concessions that would require us to get back to working together in a real way.”
There’s still a chance that lightning will strike and senators will either avert the filibuster that Democrats are prepared to mount — or find a way to prevent the nuclear option of unilaterally killing the 60-vote requirement for high court nominees, which Republicans are rounding up votes to do in response.
What it comes down to is whether it will take sixty votes or only fifty-one to confirm Neil Gorsuch in the Supreme Court. Here’s Judge Andrew Napolitano’s analysis:
The bottom line is that as our nation becomes more polarized, Senators are no longer able to abide by “gentlemen’s agreements” such as the tradition of not filibustering a Supreme Court nominee. The democrats started this by using the nuclear option to allow Barack Obama to transform our Federal Courts. They did it because they could not stand having Republicans filibuster and stop Obama’s appointments to those courts.
Now Donald Trump is President and the people who voted for him want him to act as their champion. He promised them a conservative Supreme Court Justice and now he must fulfill that promise. The Republicans in the Senate also made that promise. Allowing the Democrats the power to prevent Gorsuch for becoming a Supreme Court Justice would be to break faith with the American people.
Those who wring their hands over this are not facing up to reality. We are a nation at war with each other—and that’s only a little bit metaphorical. Our politicians can no longer play by rules that allow the other side to win if they have the power to change those rules.
I’m just glad the nuclear option is still intended as a metaphor!