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Photo illustration: Mitch McConnell and other Republicans used speech time to tell "spooky" stories about what they'll do in power should Dems bypass the filibuster
MSNBC / Getty Images

The GOP's spooky filibuster threats are hollow. Ignore them, Democrats.

Republicans have been trying to frighten Democrats about the repercussions for bypassing the filibuster. Democrats should disregard their scare tactics.


Before ultimately stifling Democrats’ attempt to pass voting rights legislation Wednesday, multiple Republican senators used their debate time to fearmonger over how they’d retaliate if Democrats were to nuke the filibuster.

Republicans stepped to the Senate lectern to share their own extra-spooky predictions about how they’d wield their power if they were unbounded by the filibuster. Democrats shouldn’t give these scare tactics an ounce of weight.

Republicans gon’ Republican regardless. That won’t stop them from fearmongering, but it should stop Democrats from caring.

We’ve seen what Republicans can do when they nuke the filibuster. During the Trump administration, they unilaterally passed tax cuts for the rich and installed dozens of judges in lifetime seats, including three Supreme Court justices

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Democrats over the last several months that they’d regret bypassing the filibuster to enact voter protections. But in this week’s voting rights debate, Republicans claimed there’s more to fear. 

(Read this next paragraph using your best Vincent Price impersonation.) 

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said his party could nuke the filibuster to pass a bunch of retaliatory laws if they regain power. Those could include extending the deeply unpopular Trump-era tax cuts for the rich, levying heavier taxes against Democrat-led states, withholding funds from states that provide services to undocumented immigrants, instituting new abortion bans, or passing laws that allow Americans nationwide to carry concealed weapons.

Democrats will “soon find themselves ruing the day their party broke the Senate," Cornyn claimed. It’s revealing that the nightmare scenario he and other Republicans depict, majority rule, is precisely how the Senate was designed to function. 

He even included this super scary poster to drive the point home:

Note to Democrats: If your opponents are taking the time to memorialize their cruel policy ideas on glossy poster paper, it’s safe to assume these are deeply held beliefs and not contingent on any Senate rules you do or do not uphold.

In short: Republicans gon’ Republican regardless. That won’t stop them from fearmongering, but it should stop Democrats from caring.

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota also used some of his speech time on Wednesday to threaten Democrats. The Senate’s second-ranking Republican claimed the GOP won’t eliminate the filibuster if they regain power — unless Democrats do. 

“We’re not going to do it, not if you don’t,” Thune said. “If you do, sure. Then it’s all bets are off.”

I appreciate that this supposedly principled stance reads with the maturity of a schoolyard playground negotiation. Thune’s vacillating statement conveys the GOP’s insincere filibuster defense perfectly.

Senate Republicans have shown, time after time, they don’t feel constrained by Senate traditions in any way. The moment they regain power, whether or not they hold a 60-vote majority, they will aim to pass the very policies they’ve been holding over Democrats’ heads. 

Knowing this should free Democrats from any remaining fear that their actions in defense of democracy will have dangerous repercussions. 

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Head over to The ReidOut Blog for more.