Since 2007, Senate Democrats have ground and gritted their teeth as Sen. Mitch McConnell's Republican minority has routinized the filibuster-threat to block just about any nomination or proposal. What have the Dems learned from the process? Unfortunately, when they're back in the minority, they're likely to use the weapon that has been used against them with unprecedented frequency. This will be better for them, worse for the country as a whole.
How will it look when they do so? We got a taste last week, with the "defeat" of the Keystone pipeline proposal. Consider this (representative) headline from The Hill:
By now it's hardly sporting even to ask how many votes were on the "reject" side. It's not 56, as an innocent reader of the headline might assume, but 42, all from the Democratic caucus. This article was one of countless reports of the Keystone issue that off-handedly asserted it takes 60 votes to "pass" a measure in the Senate. For instance, the New York Times*, with emphasis added:
The votes on the measures - which were attached to a large transportation bill and required 60 votes for passage - came after President Obama personally lobbied several Democrats to vote against one of the measures, White House officials said.
Why do I belabor the point that, instead of writing "and required 60 votes for passage," such stories should instead say "and required 60 votes to break a filibuster" or "required 60 votes to bring the measure to the floor"? Because the over-use of the filibuster threat these past five years amounts to a de facto Constitutional amendment, which the mainstream media are ratifying through matter-of-fact mention that the Senate "requires" or "was designed for" 60-vote "supermajorities" to get anything done.