If Democrats want to win, they should filibuster Trump early and often

It’s time for Democrats to learn the lessons of the last two presidencies and replicate the Republicans’ recent success. As Jonathan Chait argues, “The single accountability mechanism through which the public makes its political choices is the president. If the president is seen as succeeding, voters will reward his party. If he is seen as failing, they will punish it. Presidential approval is so dominant it drives voting in state legislative races. Scholars have found that cooperation from Congress sends a signal that the president is succeeding, and conflict sends a signal of failure.” Thus, Democrats’ fate is inextricably tied to Trump’s. For them to succeed, Trump must fail.

Democrats should filibuster anyone Trump nominates to the Supreme Court seat that was, by any reasonable read, Obama’s to fill. They can’t filibuster most other presidential appointments because of their own filibuster rules reform from 2013. But they can filibuster extremist legislation, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposals to turn Medicaid into a collection of block grants to the states or Trump’s proposal to use federal funds for private school vouchers.

They should also filibuster legislation widely seen as having more moderate appeal, like Trump’s infrastructure spending proposal. That’s partly because Trump’s infrastructure plan is actually an inefficient tax cut that will fatten the bottom lines of investors in oil pipelines rather than rebuilding decaying city streets, sewers and transit systems. And because they should resist the temptation to sign on to something that helps Trump look effective or bipartisan, just as Republicans filibustered Obama’s 2011 infrastructure investment proposal.