Defenders of Sen. Harry Reid’s triggering of the “nuclear option,” ending the filibuster for all Executive Branch nominees save those to the Supreme Court, call it a triumph for democracy. Hogwash.
Democratic governance isn’t about a majority doing whatever it wants, much less when that involves advancing a president’s agenda. Congress, in effect, has abandoned its purpose within our system of separation of powers, and needs to turn back.
As every child in America learns in civics class, Congress, as the legislature of the United States, has as its primary job to pass laws. But its responsibilities don’t end there. Congress’s functional role is to legislate, but it has an equally important structural role within our system of government: to check the powers of the other branches, especially the Executive. Unfortunately, Congress has abdicated its checking role, leading to the overly mighty Executive of today.