I am immensely glad that the American people decided to give President Barack Obama a second term. I felt he deserved it and on every issue of importance to me, he was a better candidate and a better leader than his Republican opponent.
But those same American people left the GOP in charge in the House of Representatives while slightly increasing the Democratic Party’s majority in the Senate.
The sum total of which means that barring a change on the part of the House GOP and either filibuster reform or party re-thinking by the Republicans in the Senate, President Obama is in for two more years of constantly trying to get programs adopted with the help of an opposition party which has, so far at least, shown no desire to be helpful.
The Democratic Senate can fix the problem with the filibuster at its first session in January by changing the Senate rules to restrict or abolish the arcane notion that it should always take 60 votes to pass anything in a chamber already prone to sluggishness. They will have a bit more impetus this time to do so; newly elected Independent Senator Angus King of Maine made filibuster reform his primary campaign promise. Nine Democrats — most of whom won tonight — also committed to reforming the ridiculously outmoded rule.
It takes a simple majority of the Senate to alter the rules in the first days of a new Congress. If the Dems want the newly elected Sen. King to caucus with them, he may well demand party support for filibuster reform. If he does, reform is almost guaranteed.
And if that happens, the Senate will suddenly cease to be quite as moribund, and useless, at least partially. We still need to remove the rule that allows a single Senator to put a hold on nominations and bills without identifying himself publicly or providing an explanation for his actions. But it may be too much to expect that this time around.