The Senate is known as “the world’s greatest deliberative body” due to its robust debate and protection for the political minority. It serves as a guardian of our democracy, providing protection against the advance of tyrannical one-party rule, in large part because of the existence of the filibuster. The filibuster rule, requiring 60 votes for cloture, ending debate and moving a piece of legislation in front of the body for a vote, requires the majority party to seek support from the minority party, and increases the need for debate, negotiation, and compromise. It is essential to preventing a radical agenda of either the left or the right from being enacted without bipartisan support, and fundamentally changing the constitutional foundation of our republic.
As the minority party in the Senate, Democrats were unanimous in their support of the filibuster, demanding that the Republican majority not “nuke” it in favor of a simple 51-vote majority. My, how the times, and Democrat attitudes, have changed. Senator Chris Coons, who signed a letter in 2017 pledging support for the filibuster, this year says that Democrats will “not stand idly by for four years and watch the Biden administration’s initiatives blocked at every turn.” Does this mean that one of the organizers of the 2017 letter demanding Republicans not eliminate the filibuster is now proposing that the Democrats get rid of it? Democrat Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota thinks they should, stating that eliminating the filibuster is a “very important step that we need to take in order to make sure that the Senate can function and can do the work that we need to do." Over the last few years, Chuck Schumer and the Democrats used the filibuster to block funding for the border wall, on Republican efforts to curb abortion, on Senator Tim Scott’s policing reform legislation, and on forcing sanctuary cities to comply with federal law. I wonder if Senator Smith felt this way as her party blocked Republican legislation during the Trump presidency, and the Republican-controlled Senate was prevented from “functioning” and “doing the work they needed to do.”
The last time the filibuster was nixed by Democrats, by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2013 to push through Obama judicial and executive branch nominees, it opened the gates for Republicans when they took control of the chamber. The result… GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in 2017, “nuked” the filibuster for Supreme Court Justice confirmations, allowing a simply 51-vote majority for a seat on the nation’s highest court. President Trump appointed, and the Senate confirmed, three Supreme Court justices along mostly party-line votes, never once approaching the 60 votes required for cloture. Hey Dems, how did that work out for you? The left is not very happy that the Supreme Court now has a 6-3 “conservative” majority, but that is a direct result of Harry Reid and the Democrats thwarting the chamber’s rules. What would be different this time? If Democrats nixed the filibuster now, they will no doubt once again rue that decision when Republicans reclaim control of the Senate.
Many in the Democrat party claim the filibuster is an arcane rule that was designed to prevent civil rights legislation. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a hero of the liberal socialist counterrevolution, claims, "The filibuster has deep roots in racism, and it should not be permitted to serve that function, or to create a veto for the minority." Not surprisingly, the Democrats had no problem using the filibuster as a “veto for the minority” when the Republicans controlled the Senate. To stop President Trump’s agenda, the filibuster was a necessary tool of democracy. Now, hypocrites like Tina Smith claim it is “undemocratic.”
Former President Barack Obama, Representative Joaquin Castro, and others on the left continue to claim the filibuster is “a relic of Jim Crow.” Legal expert, Hans von Spakovsky, debunks this claim, noting that the filibuster had been a part of the Senate’s history since its inception, and was used frequently in the 1800s, and not simply to support slavery and thwart civil rights. The cloture rule, as used today, was instituted in 1917, and the votes required to end a filibuster was actually reduced from the original two thirds (67) to today’s three fifths (60) in 1975. However, it is true that the filibuster was used in attempts to derail civil rights legislation in the 1950s and 1960s. I’m sure Senator Warren, President Obama, Representative Castro, and others on the left would be honest and tell you that those efforts came from members of the Democrat party, including former Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd, a one-time member of the Ku Klux Klan. Warren should look in the mirror when she asserts that the filibuster is “a tool to block progress on racial justice.”It is the Democrat party, to which she belongs, that has used the filibuster as a weapon of racism.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a veteran of nearly 30 years in the chamber, voiced her support for bipartisanship, featuring a caveat, saying, “But if that [bipartisanship] proves impossible and Republicans continue to abuse the filibuster by requiring cloture votes, I’m open to changing the way the Senate filibuster rules are used.” Madam Senator, was it not an abuse of the filibuster that Democrats in the Senate, led by the born-again progressive, Chuck Schumer, and supported by party loyalists like yourself, stalled much of the Trump agenda? President Joe Biden now says, "It's getting to the point where, you know, democracy is having a hard time functioning." Wasn’t this the case when the Democratic minority filibustered Republican priorities? This sort of hypocrisy is why average Americans trust politicians about as much as they trust lawyers, and just slightly more than they trust the mainstream media… they seek to change the rules and make laws benefit their political party and special interests and to maintain and increase their own power, not to benefit the nation.
The filibuster should not be used simply as a partisan tool to thwart the majority’s legislation, but outright removal of the filibuster as a mechanism by which the minority power maintains relevance is a step toward one-party rule. It is the one thing that separates the Senate from the House of Representatives, where monumental legislation can pass by a mere one-vote majority. Shouldn’t there be some negotiation and compromise? Shouldn’t our elected officials be looking to pass legislation that has broad, bipartisan appeal? Our senators are sent to Washington to represent all the people of their state, regardless of party, and therefore no party should ever be shut out of governing. It’s time the members of the Senate forget about appeasing their liberal special interests and far-left activist groups, and start doing what they were sent to the capitol to do… debate, negotiate, compromise, and pass legislation that helps all Americans, ensuring the general welfare of the nation and its people. It’s long overdue that we elect representatives who will bring good government back to Washington!