Getting to the Root of Filibusters

Getting to the Root of Filibusters

The Senate’s filibuster rule is a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with Washington: the stubbornness, the bald partisanship, the compulsion to cut backroom deals instead of having honest, public debate.

It’s not just that filibusters are annoying” they have real consequences for everyday people. Remember the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have reduced gender discrimination in the workplace? Filibustered. The end of taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil? Filibustered. The federal judges whose nominations keep the legal system running smoothly? They get filibustered too. The list goes on.

And filibusters certainly aren’t good for Congress. Senators are employing the filibuster more often than ever, regularly grabbing headlines but eating away at the Senate’s public image.

Filibusters hurt democracy not just for what they do but for what they represent. They are supposed to protect debate; in practice, they stifle it, cutting off avenues for compromise and further poisoning the political atmosphere.

This is no way to run a democracy and it’s certainly not what the drafters of our Constitution had in mind. They designed a system that lets the majority rule, requiring “super majority” votes in the Senate in just a few, carefully delineated circumstances — among them ratifying treaties and convicting presidents impeached by the House.The Senate would do well to get back to that system and relegate the filibuster to history.