Monday, January 28, 2013

Filibuster Reform Demographics Are Good

I've copied Chris Bowers' awesome chart of the Senators who supported and opposed the talking filibuster, listed by seniority. Unsurprisingly to anyone who follows the debate, seniority is correlated with opposition to reform. So this issue may play out a lot like gay marriage, with support for reform growing stronger with time, as we get more young people who support it and fewer old people who oppose it. The fact that young Senators consistently support reform is also a sign that persuasive momentum is going the right way.

I'd hope for something much bigger than the talking filibuster, which doesn't seem to me that likely to make big changes. Really what I'd like to see, rather than passing anything great or small right away, is that we could get a 50-vote Senate by 2017. If we can win the presidency and overcome our problems with House districts to win the chamber because of a rising economy, and steal a few of the many Republican Senate seats at risk that year, Democrats could pass a lot of amazing legislation. There's some hope for having 60 seats at that point, but even if we do, the left-wing possibilities just get better if it's a 50-vote Senate. We've gotten rid of pointlessly destructive moderates like Nelson and Lieberman, but if we don't even need Manchin or any of the oil-staters, serious climate change legislation becomes a major possibility. It's time to dream big.

One tangential note about this chart -- it shows how fresh the Democratic caucus is. The majority of them have taken their seats in 2007 or later. We've got only three people who have been in the Senate since the 70s. Sherrod Brown's class just won their first re-election campaigns, and they're already halfway up the seniority ladder.

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