September 24, 2020

Barack Obama’s Filibuster Hypocrisy

In April of 2005, Senator Barack Obama took to the floor of the United States Senate and passionately spoke out against Republican efforts to end the filibuster. Then a rising star in the Democratic Party, Obama noted that despite the pressure partisans might feel, it was imperative to “rise above an ‘ends justify the means’ mentality because we’re here to answer to the people — all of the people — not just the ones wearing our party label.”

This week, Obama made precisely the opposite argument during John Lewis’s funeral, contending that eliminating a vital check on partisan power was justified as long as Democrats got the policies they desired.

After offering a shamefully dishonest comparison between George Wallace, Bull Connor and contemporary Republicans, Obama argued that passing a “voting rights” bill was worth stripping away countermajoritarian norms. “If all this takes eliminating the filibuster, another Jim Crow relic, in order to secure the God-given rights of every American,” Obama told the congregants, “then that’s what we should do.”

And by “we,” of course, Obama means 51% of Washington should dictate the legislative agenda to the entire country. Why is it a bad idea? Let’s turn to Barack Obama of 2005, who explained that while the American people expected rigorous debate in Congress:

“What they don’t expect is for one party — be it Republican or Democrat — to change the rules in the middle of the game so that they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet. The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster — if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate — then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.”

One wonders why Obama felt comfortable using a “relic of Jim Crow” — numerous times, in fact — when it suited his political purposes? Why did the senator claim that allegedly racist institution was an indispensable check on power and a bulwark against assaults on open debate? Was this former professor of constitutional law unaware of the filibuster’s history?

Again in 2006, Obama told ABC News that he supported a filibuster of Samuel Alito because he was not only “somebody who is contrary to core American values, not just liberal values,” but had not shown “himself willing” to temper executive power. Considering Obama’s subsequent abuse of that very power, the statement reads especially hypocritically.

When it was expedient, Obama claimed to “regret” participating in the Alito filibuster. But even if we allow that President Obama changed his mind, why didn’t citizen Obama call for the filibuster’s end from 2016 to 2019? Because Obama wants Democrats, who believe they will win 2020, to govern without being encumbered by the minority. Obama can cloak arguments in grand moralistic terms, as is his wont, but he believes his party is on the cusp of an election victory. It is transparent and crass partisanship.

It’s no coincidence the same politicos clamoring for more direct democracy are the ones who view the Constitution as the biggest impediment to their goals. Those pushing to undo the filibuster — a long-celebrated ideologically neutral procedure that goes back at least to Cato the Younger — exemplify the “ends justify the means.”

The filibuster complements the constitutional checks and balances that have historically made American governance effective. A strong minority has always been a distinguishing feature of the upper house. Because when thin majorities ram through massive centralized federal laws that affect all states, as Democrats plan to do, it not only undermines political stability but self-governance as well. The blowback to the heavy-handed passage of Obamacare, an event that has a lot to do with the exceptionally frayed and acrimonious tone we see in Washington today, should have been instructive. The more divergent our views become, the more imperative it is to build consensus rather than rely on political domination.

Democrats increasingly favor centralized federal reforms on green energy and single-payer health care and so on. A minority gums up the works. It’s that simple. When Harry Reid changed the rules on federal judicial nominees and executive-office appointments, he didn’t do it for any extraordinary reason, either. He did it for power. Democrats destroyed a norm so they could name some bureaucrats to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (which wasn’t even created until 2011) and the National Labor Relations Board. They seemed to think they would hold power in perpetuity — a conceit of many politicians and parties.

“One day Democrats will be in the majority again, and this rule change will be no fairer to a Republican minority than it is to a Democratic minority,” Obama presciently warned back in 2005. That warning still stands.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer at National Review and the author of the book “First Freedom: A Ride Through America’s Enduring History With the Gun.” To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM

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18 Responses

  1. Well obama or bath house barry, has always been a wishy washy sort of person. Like clinton, I can be bought for the highest price.

    1. OBAMA, YOU ARE A DISGRACE FOR SUPPOSE TO BE AN AMERICA. MR. LEWIS A GREAT MAN AND YOU GET UP THERE AND TALK ABOUT POLITICS. YOU ARE NOT WORTHY TO BE A CITIZEN. IF I WERE THE LEWIS FAMILY YOU WOULD GET BARRED FROM EVER COMING AROUND THEM AGAIN. WHAT A DISGRACE. TRYING TO GET BIDEN FOR THE PRESIDENT. THE DEMOCRATS LOVE IT, BUT THINK OF THE FAMILY. NO MORALS. GOD FORGIVE YOUR SOUL.

  2. Barack Hussein Obama is once again talking out of both sides of his mouth. He is the most dishonest and worst politicians in the history of this great nation.

    1. I agree with Gerri . Obama is the worst President in our history .. He lies and made bad things at the end of his term for the American people.

    1. WHAT HUSSEIN WANTS,IS THE POWER HE NO LONGER HAS, HE IS THE ORIGINAL CHANGE AGENT OF THE LEFT, THE ONLY CHANGE AMERICA NEEDS IS THAT HE AND OTHER DEMONRATS CHANGE THEIR ADDRESS TO THE MOON. THE ONLY GOOD MOVEMENT IS A BOWEL MOVEMENT. THESE ARE ALL INGRATES THAT HATE THE USA,EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE ALL BECOME MILLIONAIRES HERE. VOTE REP ALL THROUGH. DISINFECT THE HOUSE AND CONGRESS OF DEMONRATS. GOD BLESS AMERICA.

  3. As for Alicia’s comment above….. Good on You.!!! So Sick and Tired of Hearing, & Seeing, & Just Everything about OBAMA & His Wife – Michelle……They hurt this Country for 8 Long Years and we still have to see and hear about their miserable C _ _ P.!!! (S * * T.!!!) Too Bad they just don’t Fall of the Planet – Then things might be Better.!!!

  4. That’s twice now .african muslim obama went on air ,pushing blmob to keep up the fight in the streets..anf pushed mail in voting.omar is isislamic African muslim.AOC is for radical islam like iran.susan rice is Islamic
    Iranian. At G.Floyd funeral they had radical islamic muslims as the funeral security..get the picture..

  5. I

    funny Democrats like- Nancy P.said on air —That No One Is Above The Law….So why is it That you have B.Obama-Irma- so many other Democrats not being under the same law as the others on the hill & us.. If it was a Republican or anyone else we be in jail by Now..
    Obama for 8 years no one had the B—-s to stop you ..Democrats hate this Great Nation & us..Get out & Vote take back this Great Nation…….
    Think before you vote-what would you like for this Great nation & your family.
    God bless everyone of you.

  6. he was the second worst president in history and no1 will always be carter! growing peanuts does not a leader make! i still hear in my mind that god awful I FEEL YOUR MALAISE speech! leaders would stand up and fight but both were spineless!

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