Eliminating the Filibuster Makes the Senate More Democratic, Not Less


Apparently we needed more evidence that everyone in politics now holds the exact opposite positions on every process issue that they did for the entire eight years of the Obama presidency.

In 2013 the Democrats were fed up with Republicans’ obstruction of Obama’s judicial nominees, so they changed the rules of the Senate to only require a simple majority to stop debate and proceed to a vote, down from the usual 60.

Republicans condemned the move as against the character of the chamber, and anti-republican. They were right, in a sense.

Since Democrats now hold a 48-vote minority in the Senate after President Trump was elected, more than enough to block his Supreme Court nominee, both parties switched sides. Republicans eliminated the 60-vote threshold and confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the Court with 54 votes.

As if we had slipped into Star Trek’s mirror universe, Democrats wailed that the other party doing the same thing they did a few years before was the end of democracy. Ironically, lowering the Senate’s vote requirement for nominations to 51 from 60 is more democratic, not less. You would think the Democratic Party would wholly approve. But then, this fight was never about ideology or even process, but power.

Requiring a supermajority of 60 votes for certain Senate actions is a grant to the minority party to have a check on an overzealous majority. It’s a republican feature of the chamber, not a democratic one.

A purely democratic body, like the House of Representatives, operates on simple majority rule. There are no fig leaves given to the minority party in the House to slow down its operation.

Eliminating 60-vote cloture requirements, colloquially referred to as the filibuster, gives full power back to the democratically elected majority in the Senate. In this case, it is voters in the majority of states, rather than the usual majority of voters, but the majoritarian ideal is the same.

Democrats didn’t like it when the minority was able to stop “progress” four years ago…because the minority wasn’t them. So they steamrolled the minority. Now that the procedural shoe is on the other foot - and directly in the path of the steamroller - Democrats want to ban steamrollers. Not because steamrollers are inherently bad, but because they’re not driving them anymore.

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