Democrats Set To Tell Mr. Smith To Get Out of Washington | Opinion

In 1939, the legendary Frank Capra directed the equally legendary Jimmy Stewart in the classic film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Both men were giants in the movie industry, but also devoted patriots who believed in American exceptionalism and patriotism. In fact, both Capra and Stewart put their careers on pause to enlist in the military during World War II; Capra in the U.S. Signal Corps and Stewart in the Army Air Corps.

Filmed and released before both men signed up to fight the Axis powers, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington tells the story of Stewart's Jefferson Smith, the head of the Boy Rangers who is appointed to an empty Senate seat based on the belief by party bosses that he would be easily manipulated to vote on bills advantageous to their interests. After realizing he is being used, Smith launches an epic filibuster on the Senate floor and exposes the nefarious scheme hatched by his corrupt opponents. The movie has become synonymous with the tradition of the Senate filibuster and, like David v. Goliath, the fight of one man against a giant—in this case, the political machine.

In the modern Senate, the filibuster is primarily a procedural tool, though there are still examples of senators engaged in Mr. Smith-like talking filibusters. For example, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave a marathon 21-hour speech against Obamacare in 2013. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) spent 15 hours demanding gun control measures in 2016. For better or worse, the filibuster has been used by senators to either slow, or kill altogether, proposals with which they disagree. The fact that one senator can exercise this procedural tool distinguishes the Senate from the House, and protects against the majority party having unchecked power without input from or negotiation with the minority.

This past September, speaking on Democrats' desire to end the legislative filibuster, Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) cited Federalist No. 62. In this essay, James Madison articulated how the Senate is designed to act as a check on the "the propensity of all single and numerous assemblies, to yield to the impulse of sudden and violent passions, and to be seduced by factious leaders into intemperate and pernicious resolutions." Senator Thune went on to cite the legislative filibuster as the means by which the Senate established this necessary check on the whims of the U.S. House of Representatives, a body that structurally reflects the passion of the masses.

This counter-majoritarian feature of the Senate was of critical importance to our Founding Fathers. Madison framed the Senate as a "necessary fence" against the "fickleness and passion" of the House of Representatives. Another popular story features George Washington explaining to Thomas Jefferson that the Framers had created the Senate as a saucer, in order to cool the hot tea of House legislation.

Protecting our republic by preventing absolute majority rule is precisely why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to end the legislative filibuster, even when Republicans had control of the House, Senate and the White House. Despite pressure from many in his own party, including President Trump, McConnell stood strong and refused to alter the role that the Founding Fathers had envisioned for the United States Senate.

Democratic senators on steps of U.S. Capitol
Democratic senators on steps of U.S. Capitol Alex Wong/Getty Images

Unfortunately, Democrats, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have proven to be more interested in full control of all levers of government than they are in giving a voice to all Americans. Democrats are threatening to end the legislative filibuster if they win control of the White House and Senate, while maintaining a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. If this nightmare scenario occurs, any bill that Democrats want to pass, however unpopular it is with the American people, would pass with a simple majority.

What would this mean? The Green New Deal would easily pass the House, and Democratic senators, fearing primaries from the socialist wing of their party, would be strongly pressed to vote "yes." The same goes for sweeping gun control laws, taxpayer-funded political campaigns, massive tax hikes and any other law that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and her "squad" of socialists might dream up.

Ending the legislative filibuster would allow Democrats to "pack" the Supreme Court, adding new seats they can fill with liberal jurists, and then pack the Senate with four new Democrats by granting statehood to Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. These measures, coupled with a reduction in the voting age to 16 years old, will allow Democrats to successfully turn the United States of America into a one-party regime, rendering senators and representatives from conservative states and districts completely powerless.

These positions are not far off from those expressed in a recent New Republic article, which argued that the Republican Party needs to die and demanded that "the American Left should work toward abolishing the Constitution someday—either for a new document or a new democratic order without a written constitution." Not surprisingly, this push for one-party rule is not only being advanced by the Left's media allies, but also by the powers-that-be in the Democratic Party itself—those like Schumer, vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), to name just some.

This drastic breakdown of the United States of America would turn our country into a banana republic. Half the country would have their voices rendered silent in our representative democracy. They would be afforded limited redress from a court system transformed into nothing more than an extension of the ruling Democratic Party. In this Orwellian version of America, whenever the Democratic takeover is complete, we will look back and rue the day that Democrats told Mr. Smith to get the heck out of Washington.

Michael R. Davis is the president and founder of the Article III Project (A3P). He previously served as chief counsel for nominations to former Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-IA), where he served as the staff leader during Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh's confirmation process. Davis also clerked on the Supreme Court for Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.