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When someone persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?


E.J. Dionne is good on the eternal stupidity of making “hypocrisy” arguments to dodge arguments on the merits:

But beyond the fact that the retreat to procedural arguments dodges the substance of the rights at stake, the hypocrisy charge fails on the most basic level: No Democrat or progressive who has flipped on the filibuster is pretending they didn’t. They are quite clear in saying versions of what the Senate arch-traditionalist Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) said in 1979: Rules that seemed appropriate in the past “must be changed to reflect changed circumstances.”

And if consistency on the filibuster is your standard, good luck in finding many purists. The loudest critic of changing filibuster rules now, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), was happy to junk the filibuster in 2017 in his quest to pack the Supreme Court with conservatives. Seems pretty hypocritical to me.

There are two big reasons why senators should vote to reform the filibuster, no matter their past views. The first is institutional: What started out as an unusual practice to extend debate has become a routine method for blocking the will of the majority. To put it starkly: Abuse of the filibuster is wrecking the Senate.

A 2020 report from the Brennan Center for Justice nicely summarized just how radical the shift has been on the use and abuse of the filibuster. “There have been as many cloture motions in the last 10 years (959),” wrote senior fellow Caroline Fredrickson, “as there were during the 60-year period from 1947 to 2006 (960).”

Her essay, and another earlier this month by Fred Wertheimer, president of the political reform group Democracy 21, underscore how often the Senate has changed its rules, and how the filibuster, established almost by accident in 1806, has no constitutional standing.

Of all of the stupid arguments defending the filibuster, the idea that that the filibuster as it stands in 2021 is a Longstanding Tradition rather than the latest iteration of a constantly changing one is among the stupidest. And needless to say, if Mitch McConnell thought that eliminating the legislative filibuster was in the interests of the Republican Party it would already be gone.

All changes to rules and norms will involve some level of “hypocrisy.” Who gives a shit? A rule is good or it is bad, and the filibuster is a very, very, very bad rule. That’s all ye need to know.

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