Thursday, March 30, 2017

Jon Chait and game theory

This is Joseph

Jon Chait:
If Republicans are telling Democrats that any attempt to filibuster the Republican nominee will lead to the Republicans abolishing the filibuster, it stands to reason that the filibuster is not worth keeping around. What value is there in a weapon one’s adversary can disarm at any time?
This is absolutely correct.  Leaving the filibuster in place under these conditions is silly.  After all, the next supreme court nomination could also have the filibuster removed if the Democrats objected.  And, say what you will about the specifics of the Merrick Garland episode, but it really does seem to create a situation where the opposing party has the moral authority to object to the nominee.

So if it is left in place but never used then what is its purpose?  At this point it seems to be to maximize the chance that Democrats suffer the odium of removing the filibuster.  Now, it might be that the current nominee should be confirmed on the merits -- that is a very different question.   It is fine to not filibuster Neil Gorsuch because one finds him to be within the acceptable parameters of a supreme court nominee.  Of course you shouldn't filibuster for no reason.

But the idea that you would avoid filibustering just so that you can avoid filibustering in the future seems like a poor strategy.  That there is even a discussion of this I find odd.  If the method can be removed by a majority vote, and the opposition party has already signaled that they are willing to do so, then the only chance of saving it is to use it and have members of the opposition decide not to repeal it.

It is odd that this issue is even being discussed.

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