Last week's move by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to change the rules on filibusters is one more sign of just how broken our system is, and the move is likely to exacerbate partisan politics and increase the dysfunction in Washington.
Ever since President Barack Obama's first term, Democrats have complained that Republicans were obstructionist. In many ways, that is true. In the Senate, Republicans had made a habit of blocking political appointees, most times for reasons that had nothing to do with the position being filled or the person picked to fill it.
Reid, on several occasions, threatened "the nuclear option," changing the rules to make it harder for Republicans to block appointees, and each time he and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell worked through the issues and came up with compromises.
Trouble is, Republicans in the Senate never lived up to their promises in those deals. They continued to block appointments. A chart displayed by Reid when he announced that the rules would change so that only a simple majority, and not the 60-vote super majority, would be required on confirmation votes told the story quite clearly. Under the heading "Filibusters on Executive Nominees," the chart showed none from Eisenhower to Ford; two under Carter and two under Reagan, none under the first President Bush; nine when Clinton was president; seven under George W. Bush; and 27 under Obama's first term with as many projected under his second term.
The rules were originally established to give the minority party more say, but the Republicans abused that power to the point where Reid felt he had no choice but to alter the rules.
Republicans say Democrats will regret the move when Republicans get back in power, and that is probably true, but the biggest regrets should come from the fact that the two parties could not resolve their differences and avoid the situation in the first place, and it shows just how dysfunctional Congress has become.