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An Easy Question


Ezra is, of course, completely right about the filibuster. While there may be individual exceptions in the long sweep of history, legislative gridlock is far more beneficial to reactionary than to progressive interests. It’s not even a close question.

I’d only add that Winship’s invocation of Supreme Court justices is pretty feeble given that neither Thomas nor Alito were filibustered; the only recent victory over a reactionary Supreme Court appointment — Bork — came on a straight up-or-down vote. But this is par for the course; progressive arguments for the filibuster always rely on hypotheticals and ignore how it’s actually been used in practice. Winship’s claims about how the filibuster “protects unpopular groups and rights from the tyranny of the majority” is rather strange, since the primary effect of the filibuster has been to thwart attempts to protect unpopular minorities and to protect the status quo. It’s not, exactly, that the filibuster doesn’t protect minorities; it’s that the minorities it “protects” — primarily small states, very rich people in general and reactionary southern white males in particular — are 1)already grossly overrepresented in our political system and 2)pretty much never represent progressive values.

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