From the Left: Nuclear Option

Joshua Horton

Joshua Horton

Who cares? Does anyone mind if the rules of the Senate are changed? Will it actually have an impact on you, the student reading this in Larson Complex or the professor glancing at the only part of the paper that talks about anything real? No impact on me, I’m in support of the majority. The question that should be floating around in your head is, will I always be in the majority?

It’s been about six years since I worked as a U.S. Senate Page. Imagine my excitement, a child of political thought, working in the most powerful place in the world. One of the most impressive people I met was Senator Robert Byrd, a Democrat from West Virginia. On March 1, he gave one of the most eloquent speeches I’ve ever heard on a proposed plan called the “nuclear option.” For most this would seem to be pointing at some sort of nuke war scenario. But what it is is just a term used to describe major changes to senate rules. Why change the rules?

Good question, and Republicans have 10 reasons to change the rules so they can win. I like to say it’s cheating to win. Since the speech, Senator Byrd, one of the wisest, most hardworking and compassionate public servants who ever served, has been dogged, attacked and personally insulted by people in the media, private citizens and even some of his fellow colleagues, all of which sit to the right of mainstream. Thank you, Sen. Byrd.

This issue goes beyond Sen. Byrd. It goes beyond right or left. It goes to the heart of what our nation stands for – majority rule, but with respect for minority rights. The U.S. Senate has a strong tradition of unlimited debate. It is the last place the minority or opposition can make their voices heard. With proposing the nuclear option to change the rules, Republican senators are looking for a quick fix for their own reasons, not your reasons. Limiting debate only gives strength to a majority of senators, not always representing a majority of the people. Without unlimited debate, the party with a slight voter advantage can disregard the rights of the other side. Majorities could rule without hindrance from minorities. Government is a slow and complicated process, but for the simple reason that when it comes to major things that could harm people, every part of that change must be explored and reviewed for the best interests of the people.

You must take care right now! The nuclear option takes away your voice, maybe not today, but someday when you are in the minority and the majority is pushing for a tyrannical change that impacts you. The right to hold it up and say no, not yet, is the only tool you have left to protect your freedoms and rights. The nuclear option is not correct.

Josh Horton is a registered democrat and president of the College Democrats.