Those who dislike Donald Trump may think it’s OK to let the Democrats run things for four years. Never Trumpers might be fearful of the leftward lurch of the Democratic Party but believe they could always fix things four years later -- that these are just the same scare tactics we hear every four years.
But things are different this time.
Filibusters allow a lone senator to hold the floor for as long as he or she wants, and thereby prevent legislation from being passed. A filibuster can only be ended with 60 or more votes.
No party has 60 seats in the Senate, so legislation requires some bipartisan support. Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer used to approvingly call the Senate “the cooling saucer for our politics – that can show the nation bipartisanship, compromise and progress.” But if the filibuster is ended, simple party-line majorities will be able to pass bills. And if the same party controls both the House and Senate, legislation will be able to zip right through Congress.
If Biden wins, there’s a very good chance he will pull the Senate with him. That makes the above scenario even likelier, especially considering that in the event of a 50-50 Senate tie, as the election betting odds now indicate is the most likely outcome, the vice president has the tie-breaking vote.
The changes Democrats would bring could produce a very different country. Let’s just look at their top priorities.
Biden promises on his first day in office to present legislation that would give citizenship to all of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. (Yale and MIT researchers peg the true number to be over 22 million). The promises of free health insurance and citizenship, not to mention lack of border enforcement, would likely encourage even more illegal immigration into the country.
Democrats’ national platform promises to “stand united against” state voter photo ID requirements and cleaning up of voter registration rolls. They also propose to make the United States the only country in the world to mandate mail-in balloting.
Democrats promise statehood to Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, thereby changing the Senate’s makeup by adding four reliably Democratic seats. They could pass campaign finance laws that make fundraising extremely difficult for challengers. They could even impose a new “fairness doctrine” that would eliminate conservative talk radio.
President Trump’s 200 federal judicial confirmations have only just brought the courts into conservative-liberal balance, with Democratic appointees still controlling circuit courts for 24 states, plus the D.C. circuit court. But Democrats can quickly undo this by passing legislation that expands the number of seats on the courts, ensuring massive judicial majorities on every circuit.
Those judicial majorities would ensure that all of the Democrats’ new laws pass constitutional muster. It would also let Democrats control redistricting, to increase their control of the U.S. House and state legislatures.
The Democrats’ platform this year includes gun bans and other regulations such as licensing and registration. This would quickly pass. Free speech would no longer be so free, as “hateful” speech would be criminalized.
The Biden administration would also establish a national commission to recommend what reparations be given to blacks for enduring slavery. And, of course, they will provide federal funding for abortions.
Teachers’ unions will be placated as Biden fulfills his promises to end competition from charter schools and voucher programs such as the DC Opportunity Scholarship program.
But teachers’ unions aren’t the only entities that would be protected from competition. Biden and congressional Democrats have also endorsed California’s new law that bans broad categories workers from being classified as freelancers or independent contractors. Uber, Lyft, and other gig-type businesses are talking about shutting down their operations in the state, and they might find themselves going out of business nationwide.
Biden has himself endorsed a version of Schumer’s plan to spend $454 billion over the next 10 years to encourage Americans to trade in their internal combustion-powered cars and buy electric vehicles.
California and Nevada have already adopted ballot harvesting, which allows organized workers or volunteers to collect absentee ballots from voters and drop them off at a polling place or election office. Democrats may implement similar measures nationwide, further reducing the security of ballots by entrusting the delivery of ballots to partisan campaign employees.
All this and more can happen if Democrats end the filibuster. Democrats have only supported the filibuster in recent years because it prevented Republicans from undoing legislation they liked, such as the Affordable Care Act. Or from passing measures such as school vouchers or national reciprocity for concealed handgun permits.
Democrats now believe they could so fundamentally change the voting rules that they won’t even have to worry about Republicans getting back in power.
If Biden wins and Democrats control the Senate, the country may become unrecognizable.