March 9, 2021

More Thoughts on the Filibuster

My recent post about the filibuster (End the Filibuster) was, perhaps, unduly negative. There are circumstances under which the filibuster might indeed operate as its advocates say it does (or should). Unfortunately, it does not work well in the current circumstances. For many years now, Republican senators have been determined to stop nearly every bill supported by Democrats. In fact, Republican senators have actually not wanted Democratic support except when it was absolutely essential. There is every indication that their attitude toward the Democratic agenda has not changed. What I wrote about the filibuster assumed that Republican senators were not about to have a change of heart.

Assume, however, that at some future time, both parties had a genuine concern for democracy and for the citizens of the Republic. If the party in power proposed a bill whose general purpose was agreed upon by both parties, the minority party would have every incentive to achieve a compromise bill that was more to its liking. The 60-vote requirement would provide more incentive to the majority party to compromise than it would have in the absence of the filibuster. This is how proponents of the filibuster think it should work.

I remain in favor of getting rid of the filibuster because the GOP currently is not interested in democracy and the welfare of the citizenry. It is only interesting in power and opposing anything offered by the Democrats.

There have been proposals to modify the filibuster to make it less draconian. Perhaps one of these proposals could be helpful. I doubt it, but stay tuned.

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