Filibuster is a buzzword.
One that people, including myself, throw around without learning the meaning of. The filibuster is a process used in the senate to delay a bill getting passed, or prohibit it from getting passed entirely.
Filibustering is essentially procrastinating in political settings. The filibuster has been used to block bills that certain groups in the Senate don’t like.
According to a 2020 report by the Brennan Center for Justice, “Sixty votes are routinely needed in the Senate for even the most minor matters, making it nearly impossible to legislate in the national interest or find common ground.”
Because of the partisan nature of politics, the recently proposed changes in the infrastructure, and big-ticket issues such as climate action are up for debate in the Senate, the filibuster is taking a front and center spot on the news circuit. There are two central denominators within the myriad of reasons behind the filibuster’s current moment in the public’s sun. One, the traitors, and two, abolishment.
From West Virginia and Arizona respectively these two senators are passionate about bipartisanship. And because of the filibuster overpowering the simple majority rule and requiring 60 votes for most if not all legislation, having senators unwilling to vote on party lines unless Republicans vote too, triggers a Senate that’s all talk and no legislative action.
There are issues that need action and need it now, such as climate change, infrastructure, and healthcare. People’s lives and the future of the planet are at stake, and the filibuster, unwilling to budge Republicans and those more focused on bipartisanship than actual progress has proven to be large roadblocks on the traffic-filled highway to action.
Two: the abolishment.
The filibuster isn’t all bad, and abolishing it isn’t something that can be done easily.
There are some valid arguments for upholding the filibuster, including that it forces bipartisanship and compromises, things that are necessary for a healthy democracy. However, those arguments do not cancel out the fact that the filibuster is killing democracy.
The filibuster is used to halt bills on partisan lines, which undermines the whole reason many use to uphold it. Further, the filibuster represents the ideals of the minority in the senate and cancels out the ideas of the majority. This directly goes against the whole purpose of voting senators in, to get the majority’s ideas represented.
So what are all these complaints about? How will the Senate, sans filibuster, uphold bipartisanship?
Getting rid of the filibuster isn’t the solution, simply because it would be impossible to do so with the filibuster in place. The solution is rather to make it harder to filibuster, which would allow big-ticket and time-sensitive issues to pass through, whilst still requiring some party line-crossing votes to occur.
The filibuster hurts democracy. It’s a technicality that’s costing progress. It’s shooting down all of Biden’s proposals. We’re running out of time on many domestic and international issues. And reforming the filibuster is the only way to stop the clock.