The Nuclear Option

President Trump has repeatedly urged the Senate Majority Leader (Mitch McConnell) to use the nuclear option. What is that? I have rewritten this first paragraph six times. I am not a good enough writer to thoroughly explain supermajorities and when they are used. I think that I am good at explaining things, so it just points to how complex its use is. The vastly oversimplified version is that it normally takes 60 votes in the Senate to do major things with bills, as well as with approving certain appointments by the President. The appointment of a Supreme Court judge is one example. The nuclear option has mainly been used in the past mainly on appointments. The party in power changes the rules, and it only takes a simple majority of 51 Senators to approve an appointment. In November of 2013, the Democrats used it to pass a number of nominations other than the Supreme Court when Republicans were blocking every nomination President Obama made.

Pixabay image of nuclear explosion behind the Statue of Liberty.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot, and it is the Democrats who are blocking things. But the democracy-destroying difference here is that President Trump wants the Senate to do away with the need for 60 votes for pretty much anything. The Republicans with their 52 vote majority could execute a complete rewrite of the political landscape. The Republican platform is anti-abortion. With 51 votes, the could reverse Roe vs. Wade. Of course, it would be challenged and end up in front of the Supreme Court. That is where Trump’s appointment of conservative judges who will back the Republican agenda is so important. Let’s roll back all requirements on gun control, or maybe segregation wasn’t such a bad thing in the eyes of the far right Republicans.

I wonder how many major changes the Republican party could make between now and November. They are assuming that the Democrats are going to sweep the midterm elections, so what do they have to lose?  If Trump got his way and the requirement for the Senate was only 51 votes, He would be one step closer to the dictators, he so admires.  I’ll not even go down the other nuclear path that Donald J. seems so anxious to embrace.