When Republicans threatened the nuclear option because Dems were opposing Bush’s judicial nominees in 2005, some progressives said, ‘Let them do it!’ They were right. Now we’re stuck both with Roberts and Alito AND a filibuster that is so common, Democrats are prevented from doing anything more serious than trimming a hangnail unless they can get sixty votes.

The filibuster has tremendously increased in frequency of use since the 1960s. In the 1960s, no Senate term had more than seven filibusters. One of the filibusters of the 1960s, was when southern Democratic Senators attempted to block the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by making a filibuster that lasted for 75 hours. In the first decade of the 21st century, no Senate term had fewer than 49 filibusters. The 1999-2002 Senate terms both had 58 filibusters.[13] In the fall of 2007, the 110th Congress’ 1st session broke the record, for filibuster cloture votes, topping 70 as of Nov 15, 2007. It is on track to triple the number of such votes in 2008’s 2nd session. [14]

The numbers required to invoke cloture and end a filibuster varied throughout the twentieth century, and it’s time they were changed again. Otherwise, Democrats, at this critical point in our history, won’t be able to overcome obstructionist Republicans, who are merely trying to stop Democrats from rescuing the economy out of fear that if the Dems succeed, that will turn Republicans into a permanent minority.

The other reason the number to invoke cloture needs to be lowered is that doing so would remove the cover that Claire used on the stimulus package: “Compromise had to happen or we would NOT have 60 votes. Period.” She wanted $100 billion cut from “silly stuff” like aid to states for higher education, but she got to hide behind Republicans.

Blue Dog Democrats need to stand in the limelight when they oppose programs this country needs and confess that they themselves are voting against helping people. Enough of blaming Republicans for their own obstructionism.

If they couldn’t hide behind Republican filibusters, they’d have to vote for the right thing more often.