Lifted from comments on the post Our thoughts and opinions are with you, reader Mark Jamison writes:
The filibuster is fundamentally undemocratic in a body that is already constructed undemocratically. The filibuster is an accident of history that has weaponized in the last twenty years.
Yes, in particular circumstances it seems like a firewall but ultimately it does far more damage than good.
What would the ACA have looked like if the Democrats hadn’t had to operate and negotiate under filibuster rules (yes, I know they ultimately used reconciliation for final passage but the bill was constructed under the assumption of needing 60 votes)?
Would Republicans have been more inclined to participate in the negotiations if they knew 51 votes were sufficient?
Would Joe Lieberman have been able to wield veto power over a public option if his vote wasn’t essential?
Would the subsequent opposition to ACA played out the same way – a bill that only required 51 votes would have likely been much less of a Rube Goldberg construction, much easier to administer and much easier to defend.
The presence of the filibuster allows for more rigid ideological partisanship because ultimately the majority is protected from doing something stupid by being able to blame the other side for being obstructionist. The majority becomes like the drunk in the bar who insists his friends hold him back from the fight.
In the present circumstance the absence of the filibuster would likely result in some pretty bad outcomes but I wonder if making the Republicans pay the ultimate political cost should they simply charge ahead wouldn’t have some tempering influence. Absent the filibuster would some of the Republicans like Graham, Flake, and Rubio who are more moderate in immigration have second thoughts about charging ahead?
I don’t dismiss the human outcomes if the Republicans get their way here but the fact remains that those bad outcomes remain in play filibuster or not. Make the Republicans govern which also implies they pay the consequences for how and what they do. Let them take full ownership for their racist and destructive policies.
As it stands Congress is a wholly dysfunctional body. Whatever benefits the filibuster may have had, and it should be noted they were never as clear as the fictional Mr. Smith Goes to Washington scenario implies, it now acts less as a protection against bad policy than an excuse to be rigid and radical.
“(yes, I know they ultimately used reconciliation for final passage”
Actually no, they didn’t. They used reconciliation to amend the bill they had already passed.
As in Pelosi’s “you have to pass it to find out what’s in it” comment that is seized on by no nothings as a sound byte.
Agree about the filibuster though.
I fail to see the relevance of the filibuster / cloiture issue.
Does anybody think public opinion will “shame” the senate to abandon the filibuster?
Until there’s a constitutional Amendment, the Senate will make it’s own rules which serve it’s members depending which side is in power at any given point in time.
If you want simple Senate majority rule on every type and kind of legislation you end up with legislative law chaos and trying to pick up the pieces after the fact, perpetually… meanwhile the nation suffers one way or another.
When there are no brakes either nobody every drives at all or they crash and die.
Each legislative body is supposed to make its own rules. However if you look at the history and what the founders had to say and the number of times a 2/3rds majority was to be used. Each body was supposed to be majority rules.
“The modern form ‘filibuster’ was borrowed in the early 1850s from the Spanish form filibustero, and was applied to private military adventurers like William Walker who were then attacking and pillaging Spanish colonies in Central America.”
Gonna fix the title now.
A. The Constitution explicitly authorizes congress to make it’s own rules. It’s not a “supposed” to .. it’s an imperative.. there were no other options provided.
“supposed to be’s”
I learned the hard way long ago:
“There’s the ‘should be’s’ and the ‘is’s’. Deal with the ‘is’s’ if you want to survive. Ignore them at your own peril.”
If you want to believe in utopian fairy tales that’s ok by me, but then you’re ignoring reality which serves no interests. .
Be very skeptical of arguments based on counterfactuals.