A WSJ editorial makes the most compelling case for electing John McCain, one that the campaign has barely touched upon: the need to check unalloyed liberalism.
If the current polls hold, Barack Obama will win the White House on November 4 and Democrats will consolidate their Congressional majorities, probably with a filibuster-proof Senate or very close to it. Without the ability to filibuster, the Senate would become like the House, able to pass whatever the majority wants.
Though we doubt most Americans realize it, this would be one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history. Liberals would dominate the entire government in a way they haven’t since 1965, or 1933. In other words, the election would mark the restoration of the activist government that fell out of public favor in the 1970s. If the U.S. really is entering a period of unchecked left-wing ascendancy, Americans at least ought to understand what they will be getting, especially with the media cheering it all on.The nearby table shows the major bills that passed the House this year or last before being stopped by the Senate minority. Keep in mind that the most important power of the filibuster is to shape legislation, not merely to block it. The threat of 41 committed Senators can cause the House to modify its desires even before legislation comes to a vote. Without that restraining power, all of the following have very good chances of becoming law in 2009 or 2010.
The editorial lists various things that are likely to pass in a national government dominated by Democrats. Some of them, like restoring the right to vote for felons who have served their time, are arguably good policies. Others, like rules changes that “could cement Democratic rule for years to come,” are more scary.
Interestingly, the editorial doesn’t mention McCain at all. Given that Senate races are statewide and individual, though, it’s hard to see how people will have much impact on stopping this trend. After all, I can vote for Jim Gilmore over Mark Warner (almost certainly to no avail) but have no ability to influence the other 32 Senate races.
Unless enough Republican Senate contenders win their individual races, then, the veto, not the filibuster is the check on this eventuality.