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Matthews: 'We've gotta junk the filibuster'

Let me finish tonight with this.I want the American government to work. I want elections to matter, to have Congress act on what people decide in the voting

Let me finish tonight with this.

I want the American government to work. I want elections to matter, to have Congress act on what people decide in the voting booth. I want this republic to be alive with new ideas, new approaches, and, yes, experimentation. We have problems--out-of-control unfair immigration process, the pile-up of long-term debt, the plight of our inner cities--but it's a do-able list, don't you think?

So let's try to get working on that list. Let's set about fixing these challenges. 

But we don't, do we? And there's no reason to believe this election is going to change things.

If Obama wins, the Democrats may keep hold of the Senate by a vote or two. But he won't have anywhere near the 60 votes necessary to kill a filibuster.  

So nothing's going to get done. Another two years and nothing's going to clear the Senate. They won't be able to deal with anything positive, like passing a fair, enforceable immigration policy. 

But let's say Romney pulls a squeaker. The Republicans will have the House and could have the Senate as well. That will give them just enough power--all they need, really--to push through a big tax cut for the wealthy, and a big cut in social and economic programs for the working poor and middle class. They can do it through "reconciliation."    

This is the difference, the big reason why Democrats should junk the filibuster. It's really only good for either not doing anything or for "cutting."  

If you want to do something, it's a towering obstacle against you. 60 votes? To get them, you have to deal away what may be the margin of success.  

Look at the stimulus package. Look at the health care bill. Think of what Obama could have done with 50 votes. Think of what could be done if we had majority rule, if we had something closer to real democracy.

This is a cause worth working toward. It is a cause that makes a point and clarifies the real difference between the two major parties. Democrats want to use government to play a positive role in American life. Republicans are content with a governing process that bends the system toward those who really, deep down, only want to cut spending and, of course, cut taxes for those with the most clout to begin with. 

It's simple: if you're a progressive, if you're interested in a positive, get-it-done role for government, then we've got to junk the filibuster.