For much of the past decade, the Democrats in the US Senate have failed repeatedly to pass progressive or even lukewarm liberal legislation. There are many reasons for these failures, but the one that they use in defense most often is their fear of a GOP filibuster. What is a filibuster, you ask? Here's a brief description from Wikipedia.
A filibuster in the United States Senate usually refers to any dilatory or obstructive tactics used to prevent a measure from being brought to a vote. The most common form of filibuster occurs when a senator attempts to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a bill by extending the debate on the measure, but other dilatory tactics exist. The rules permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish and on any topic they choose, unless "three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn" (usually 60 out of 100 senators) brings debate to a close by invoking cloture under Senate Rule XXII.
Fear of a filibuster is what scuttled any meaningful gun control legislation. Knowing they probably couldn't muster the needed 60 votes for cloture, the Democrats bailed out by insuring no bill would be passed (see this morning's post).
Here's what I don't understand. When you have an issue with overwhelming public support, why fear a potential filibuster? Let the other side filibuster all they want and make political hay out of the fact they are doing so! In the case of recent attempts at gun control legislation, the Democrats could have made the case that the GOP was trying to thwart the will of the American people. They could have said, "Look here. A minority is blocking the will of the majority. Are you voters going to stand for that?"
Unfortunately, on issue after issue, the Democrats steadfastly refuse to invoke this strategy. The ONLY plausible explanation for this continual refusal is that on many of these issues the Democrats actually agree with their Republican counterparts. They simply utilize the "fear of a filibuster" to provide themselves with political cover. They can report to their constituents that they really, really wanted to pass progressive legislation, but those nasty Republicans stood in their way. With the road blocked, they either were forced to give up entirely or to accept a much more conservative proposal.
The saddest part of all this is that their supporters lap up this nonsense.