Without the filibuster, the Senate would become the Wild West
In a recent Op-Ed published by the Herald-Leader, Aidan O’Brien claims the Senate filibuster is nothing more than a political tool to support an already flawed system. This claim, however, could not be farther from the truth.
O’Brien begins with the assertion that the founding fathers did not intend for there to be any rules allowing a filibuster, but this argument does not stand. It is illogical to claim something must be wrong solely because the founding fathers “didn’t intend it.” Our system of government is deliberately designed to allow amendments and changes, for the founding fathers must have known that nearly 300 years later (or even 30 years later), the political climate would not be the same as it had been when the Constitution was ratified. Moreover, the mere creation of a bicameral legislature implies the need for tools like the filibuster. Without the filibuster, the House of Representatives and the Senate would fundamentally operate in the same manner.
I mean, if we’re getting rid of the filibuster, why don’t we just get rid of the Senate? Who needs more than one chamber anyway?
Our bicameral congress is the single-most crucial component to bipartisan and sustainable legislation. While the House of Representatives can pass nearly any legislation with a simple majority vote, the Senate requires 60 votes. This is to say: The Senate is where legislation is revised, or perhaps even rationalized, before becoming law across the country. George Washington once said legislation must go through the “senatorial saucer to cool it.”
Because of its unique purpose, the Senate must give fair representation to the minority Senators, just as they do with the members of the majority. How does it do this? Among other things, the filibuster is a major component. We do not live in a nation where 51 percent of the people rule the totality, and the Senate is the primary body responsible for ensuring this. A country in which California and New York control the other 48 states is, at best, a total failure of a democracy.
The filibuster allows the minority to block legislation until the majority is willing to compromise and revise. These sorts of discussions and concessions benefit no one more than the American people.
O’Brien goes on to claim that Senator McConnell has no respect for the filibuster except when it benefits him. This is absurd.
In September of 2015, 57 Republican Representatives wrote to then Senate Majority Leader McConnell asking him to remove the filibuster. McConnell, serving as the majority leader from 2015 to 2021, certainly had plenty of opportunities and even significant pressure from his own party to get rid of the filibuster—it would have benefited him! However, opting to respect the single-most important establishment to protect the balance of power in congress, McConnell refused. Nobody respects the filibuster more than Senator Mitch McConnell.
This is not the Democrats’ first attempt at changing the rules to benefit them. In 2013, Senate democrats changed the rules requiring 60 votes for nominees to only 50 votes for a successful confirmation. As they would find out, during the Republican majority, Senator McConnell was able to confirm three Supreme Court Justices and more than 50 Circuit Judges because of their change in rules. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said “ the biggest mistake I ever made was voting on the rule change on judges.”
When the Senate majority changes the rules to only benefit their party, the principle losers are the American people. Even if the democrats’ attempt at undermining our democracy is successful, everything they have done will simply be repealed and replaced when the Republicans regain control. If we desire any sort of balance and stability in our democracy, the filibuster must stay.
Jeffery Proffitt is the Chairman of the College Republicans at Transylvania University.