The next dance

Sometimes in a relationship, things stay together or fall apart little by little–be it a couple, a family, a business, an institution or a nation. A decision may not seem huge at the time, but in retrospect, it may turn out to be a big step toward unity or a big step toward brokenness.

Apparently it was President James Buchanan (1791-1868) who first called the U.S Senate “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” The Senate traditionally required a 60% majority to confirm presidential appointees, necessitating some bi-partisanship in its advise and consent role.

Since 1957, there have been proposals to change it to a 51% majority, a move called the “nuclear option” by Senator Trent Lott. It finally happened in 2013, when Senator Harry Reid and the democrats changed the rule except for appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was a dance step away from bi-partisan governance, a move away from national unity.

In 2017, facing strong opposition to the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the high court, Senator Mitch McConnell and the republicans changed the rule to include U.S. Supreme Court appointees. The “nuclear option” and the abandonment of the Senate’s regular order have made dancing impossible for what was once known as the world’s greatest deliberative body.

The Senate–and the country–needs some dancing lessons.

From “The Nuclear Option: What It Is and Why It Matters,” by Alex Seitz-Wald, NBC News, April 3, 2017.

One thought on “The next dance”

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