Home / General / Your occasional reminder of the abomination before the Lord that is the filibuster

Your occasional reminder of the abomination before the Lord that is the filibuster


Quick historical refresher: Prior to the 1970s, filibusters were very rare, as it was considered a radical thing to do to hold up the entire Senate in order to blockade a bill. A total of 58 cloture motions were filed in the 43 years between 1917, when the modern filibuster was created, and 1970. Meanwhile there have been 300 filed in the first 18 months of the 117th Congress.

Gradually over the last few decades it’s somehow become accepted almost without argument that it should be impossible to pass anything of significance that Republicans don’t like — that is, anything other than tax cuts and right wing judicial nominations, which are both exempted from the filibuster — without getting 60 rather than 50 votes in the Senate.

This is a fantastically radical change in the basic governing structure of the country, and again it’s more or less happened like the proverbial slowly boiling frog — the filibuster is treated by the media as if it had been carried down from Mt. Vernon by George Washington, while the endlessly feckless Democratic party continues to collectively support a Senate rule that has a completely asymmetrical effect on policy, blocking things that Democrats want to do, while allowing things that Republicans desire:

Republican and Democratic senators said Wednesday they expect a bill to codify same-sex marriage to eventually win the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster, a sign of growing public acceptance and a sea change over an issue that had once badly divided the two parties.While most GOP senators are likely to vote against the bill, lawmakers in both parties believe there will be at least 10 Republicans who would join all 50 Democrats and advance the bill to a final up-or-down vote.Buoyed by the 47 Republicans who voted for similar legislation that passed the House Tuesday, senators expected a similar show of bipartisan support when the measure hits the Senate floor.

One key Republican, Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, told CNN Wednesday he “probably will” support the bill. And, importantly, Republican Whip John Thune said he expects the legislation will have similarly strong GOP support in the Senate as it got in the House.

The filibuster is a horrible practice that never had any justification in a system that is already filled to the brim with other anti-democratic features. In its current form, in which it is both anti-democratic and anti-Democratic, continuing Democratic support for it is insane from a public-regarding standpoint, although still all too rational from the perspective of self-interested individual senators.

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