Democrats in the U.S. Senate might have served themselves — and the nation — better in remembering the adage: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
Last week, the Democrat-controlled Senate approved an alteration of its rules that effectively ends the minority party’s ability to filibuster to block the confirmation of most presidential nominees.
Under Senate rules, filibusters — the act of a senator talking continuously so a vote can’t be taken — can be ended only with 60 votes in the 100-member Senate.
Now, under the rule change, debate can be cut off for executive and judicial branch nominees with a simple majority. This, however, does not apply to Supreme Court nominations or legislation — at least not yet.
It is understandable why frustrated Democrats made the move. The Republican minority has been using the filibuster frequently to block or delay the confirmation of President Obama’s nominees, often for purely political reasons.
The filibuster has been overused in recent years and has contributed to the toxic political climate in the nation’s capital.
However, let’s not forget that Democrats used the filibuster to block President George W. Bush’s nominations.
Whining about the filibuster by the majority party has been going on for several years. But until Thursday’s action, the filibuster was generally considered sacrosanct.
The move, as expected, was met with outrage by the Republican minority.
“If the majority can change the rules, then there are no rules,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. “It puts a chill on the entire U.S. Senate.”
Even a few Democrats, including Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., took umbrage with the move.
“This institution was designed to protect — not stamp out — the voices of the minority,” Pryor said.
Long-standing procedural rules such as the filibuster should not be changed every time the political wind shifts from right to left (and vice versa).
When Democrats changed the filibuster rule, it was an abuse of their majority power and opened the door for further abuses by the majority party, whether it’s the Democrats and Republicans.
One day Senate Democrats will be in the minority and when their voices are crushed by the majority they will have only themselves to blame.