Bryan Griffin: Changing The Rules To Win | WAMC

Bryan Griffin: Changing The Rules To Win

Mar 31, 2021

The political narratives have become so intense that no action is too extreme. Racism, wealth inequality, and climate disaster lurk around every corner. Even the rules shouldn’t stand in the way of advancing their political agenda, say the Democrats, if their motivations are so true.

The problem is that Democrats in Washington have been on both sides of many of the issues that they currently champion.

From 2016-2020, Democrats in Washington were certain that our elections were compromised by unfair practices and outside forces. They insisted that something was fishy with Trump’s win, and their efforts were a crusade to save our democracy.

Now, they say seeking election integrity measures is akin to voter suppression.

For Trump’s term in office, detention camps at the southern border were symbols of hate.

Now, those same (even more) crowded facilities are just part of life. “It happens every single solitary year,” said Biden. His administration was so keen on distracting from the growing crisis at the border that they prevented media access to the detention facilities.

In 2005, Joe Biden spoke passionately against a proposal to get rid of the Senate filibuster. This plan was called the “nuclear option.”

“We should make no mistake,” he said. “It is a fundamental power-grab by the majority party.”

His efforts helped stave off the threat to the filibuster until his party took that very same nuclear option to confirm Obama’s judicial appointees in 2013. Republicans then did the same in 2017.

Now, the filibuster stands between Democrats and their legislative overhaul of the country.

Today’s Joe Biden rallies against the filibuster as a “relic of the Jim Crow era.”

Why can’t the Democrats seem to decide how they feel about an issue?

It all comes down to power.

Power grabs, cloaked in righteous rhetoric, aren’t questioned. Even if it means changing the rules.

And yes, both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of this from time to time. But consider these two important distinctions:

Number one, changing the rules has become a trend for the Democrats lately. It's not a weapon of last resort, but a tactic of getting their way. Rules that don't suit them are branded as an evil.

In a year’s time, they’ve proposed abolishing the filibuster, changing the size of the Supreme Court, expanding the House of Representatives, and abolishing the Electoral College. They’ve already taken unprecedented action to remove committee members of the opposite party in the House, and many Democrat state officials made unilateral decisions to alter the established procedures of the election.

Second, the rules become all the more important when considering the stated goal of each of the parties. Let’s take them at face value:

The Republican Party is focused on preserving Constitutional liberties[1].

The Democrats are focused on implementing their vision of social justice[2]. At any cost to liberty.

For Democrats to get their way, power has to be consolidated at the top, in the federal government. This is their mechanism of delivering their justice. Government distributed wealth. Government provided essential services. Government-led thought on race and division. Higher taxes. A society that serves the government, and a government that permits society to exist.

There is another way, another approach to government.

Government should serve the people and the people permit the government to exist.

It’s the novel design that our founders envisioned when they formed the United States. And it’s a design that is threatened by the increasingly rapid consolidation of power in the federal government.

If the Democrats can only get their way by changing the rules, then they shouldn’t get their way at all. No party should. And from time to time if a rule is examined, in due course, by modern society and found to be prohibitive to good and decent humanity, then it should be changed by consensus effort.

Separate the rhetoric from the political tactics. Every move of the party in power won’t be for the grand designs of righteous justice that they say it is. Sometimes, it’s just about consolidating power. Especially if they were recently on the other side of the same issue when their party didn’t control the government.

Rules recast by a single party will only serve a single party.

[1] “Our Constitution should be preserved, valued and honored.”

[2] “[To] forge a … more equitable future. We must right the wrongs in our democracy.”

Bryan Griffin is a lawyer, author, and policy analyst at the London Center for Policy Research. He advocates for the causes of freedom and limited government.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.