The Single Worst Thing That Could Happen to Liberalism

Greg Sargent outlines one “nightmare” scenario should Republicans win the White House and take the Senate:

If Republicans regain the Senate, will they seek to reform the filibuster, sweeping away an obstacle that bedeviled Dems and making it far easier for them to enact their own agenda with a simple Senate majority? […]

“Here is a once in a lifetime chance to implement real revolutionary change, and once we do it it will be years before it can be undone by a Democratic president,” [Norm] Ornstein says, characterizing likely GOP thinking. “If you believe that Americans will love deregulation and budget cuts once they get them, you’re going to take the big long term hit to get the short term gain.”

There’s no question that Republicans would use a narrow Senate majority to end the filibuster in the event of a Republican presidency; the current GOP has never had much use for rules or norms that don’t advance their priorities. The filibuster was perfect for blocking Obama and obstructing his legislative agenda; if the shoe falls on the other foot, Republican senators will quickly dispense with the tactic in favor of “up or down votes” and the “will of the people.” (No one will question the fact that this didn’t apply when Democrats held the presidency, 59 Senate seats and a large House majority.)

It should be said that, as bad as this would be for liberal priorities, it’s not the worst thing that would happen as a result of a Republican presidency in 2013. For that we can look to the economy, which barring something catastrophic will improve. As a result of their association with the recovery, Republicans will ride on a wave of gratitude as the party that “saved” America from the worst recession since the Great Depression. The GOP will emerge as the dominant party for another decade or two, and that, more than any rule change, is a nightmare for the long-term success of the liberal project.

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