Opinion briefs: Get ready for public lands battles . . . Will progressives end filibuster to achieve liberal fantasies?

Knives out on public lands? The U.S. Senate confirmation of Rep. Deb Haaland as Interior secretary signals a return to public land battles in Utah.

Both Utah senators voted against Haaland’s confirmation. Sen. Mitt Romney issued a statement saying he met with Haaland and discussed key public lands issues important to Utah. Those issues included temporary suspension of federal energy leases, asserting greater federal control over public lands, and the administration’s review of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument designations.

Obviously, Romney didn’t like what he heard. He cited Haaland’s “record and views on land management and energy resources, including her support of radical policies like the Green New Deal” as reasons he opposed her confirmation. 

As I’ve written previously, an early indication of how contentious public lands issues will become is whether Biden administration officials will sit down and negotiate, collaborate and compromise with Utah’s congressional delegation and the rest of Congress on national monument designations. If they decline to negotiate and unilaterally expand the boundaries we’ll know things are going to get ugly.

End filibuster and let Democrats run wild? Some of the Biden administration’s top priorities are going to get bogged down in the U.S. Senate. And that means the venerated Senate filibuster rule may suffer an ignominious death. The pressure is building rapidly to dump the filibuster.

Every day I get email messages from left-leaning organizations like Common Cause (which used to be more centrist) and Patriotic Millionaires demanding that the Senate jettison the filibuster rule (which they say is racist). That would enable congressional Democrats to have free rein and enact an ultra-liberal agenda.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about the filibuster. Dropping it would obviously end any need to compromise and find bi-partisan solutions to problems. It would enable passage of a vast amount of legislation that I believe would damage the country by increasing taxes, enlarging the size of government, and making people more dependent on government.

On the other hand, I’m also inclined to say that elections have consequences. Democrats were elected to run the country, so let them enact their agenda and see if citizens like it and re-elect them in 2022 and 2024. In other words, let them do their thing and reap the consequences.

Unfettered by the filibuster, Democrats are likely to overreach, vastly overestimating their mandate and misjudging what Americans really want. They did precisely that early in Pres. Obama’s first term and it cost them dearly, losing 1,000 legislative, congressional and gubernatorial seats nationwide over the next several years. And they lost the presidency to Donald Trump.

Without the filibuster, all those liberal fantasies could be consummated: Higher taxes, gun control, wide-open immigration policies, a federal takeover of election laws and procedures, more business regulation, more nixing of oil and gas pipelines, higher gas prices and more energy dependency courtesy of the Green New Deal, skyrocketing federal debt, packing the Supreme Court, statehood for Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, more identity politics, more cancel culture, more limits on freedom of speech, less standing up to dictators, and more influence by Hollywood, big tech and big business.

Sounds like a fun country to live in.

I ultimately come down on the side of preserving the filibuster. But the little devil on my right shoulder whispers how much fun it would be to watch leftists go wild, greatly misjudge the sentiments of the American people, and sow the seeds of their own destruction in coming elections.