Opinion

The Filibuster Must Die

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Dan Backer Attorney
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There are many great reasons for the existence of the Senate filibuster, the unique right of a minority of 41 senators to deny a vote on most matters in the upper chamber. Its creation stemmed from the laudable goal of forging, or perhaps forcing, consensus in the Senate by promoting the need for a supermajority. In doing so, it wisely preserved the unique institution of the Senate, often called the greatest deliberative body in the world, and led to the passage of laws based on broad national ideals.

By protecting the representational rights of the minority party in our government, the filibuster guarded the interests not just of the majority in the states electing the minority of senators, but of the minority in states represented by the majority of senators. The filibuster prevented a single faction within our nation, temporarily in power, from imposing its will upon everyone else. It also stopped political elites from saddling more government upon an unwilling people for their own economic benefit. By dispensing with the filibuster for executive appointments when it was to their advantage in 2013, Democrats abandoned it as a mechanism for compromise and have now declared the filibuster their tool for blatant obstructionism.

That is why the filibuster must die.

After eight years of partisan rancor, driven by the most ideological president in recent memory, how many Americans believe the Senate ought to remain an airless, outdated institution removed from regular citizens? How many voters care about preserving the chumminess of senators? How many are excited to have a Senate that can find a million ways to achieve nothing? Very few. Not a single person who voted against politics as usual—against a do-nothing, overspending, over-regulating, self-serving Washington—is worried about the sanctity of Senate rules. We’re in the midst of a profound revolution in which national sentiment has moved away from the institutions of government that have failed us. As the president noted in his inaugural, the people want their power back. Republicans should give it to them.

Voters demanded Washington change its act by electing the first true outsider president in history. Americans want problems solved, not more meandering policies stifled by rigid parliamentary procedure. The Obama era led voters to hand Republicans their greatest degree of control over the federal government in nearly a century and tossed 1000 Democrats out of elected offices throughout the country. Not one of those voters chose to help Chuck Schumer desperately cling to power or preserve the Senate’s false sense of institutional antiquated importance. That ship sailed after Democrats rammed one-sided laws like Obamacare down the throats of Americans and declared the new, duly elected president to be illegitimate, undermining our democracy as the voice of the people.

The long shift from a Democratic supermajority to President Trump reflects how Democrats no longer represent the mainstream, and they’re happy to admit it. Democrats have adopted a “not-now-not-ever” stance even as President Trump supports positions, such as transportation spending, liberals have supported for decades. The filibuster was never meant as a tool of “resistance,” where no compromise is offered and cannot be allowed to become a tool of factionalism used by the coastal, urban elite.

Change cannot come if our Senate majority blithely adheres to the antiquated tradition of the filibuster and allows Democrats to stymie real results, such as confirming Supreme Court justices who follow the Constitution. Preserving the filibuster to the sole benefit of Democrats will deny Americans the Trump Agenda they voted for and send a message to the people who our elections do not matter. The filibuster will no longer serve to build reasonable consensus. Instead, becoming a tool for political elites to protect the status quo they have benefited from for decades.  This is precisely what Americans voted against in electing Donald Trump.

Republicans have a clear mandate: get results, get them now, or get gone. They must deliver on eight years of promises to fix our problems by implementing conservative policies that work. Do it now, or waste this historic opportunity to make America great again.

Senate Republicans must be courageous and not waste this moment to achieve successful outcomes on behalf of the people. Conservative principles can only be put into action if we take bold steps to implement our vision right now—while we can. The Left will never compromise. That’s clear. They proved as much in 2009 and repeatedly since. Passing President Trump’s agenda requires action in the Senate. If Democrats are openly saying they will stop anything and everything before even seeing it, then Republicans must, out of duty to Democracy, curtail their ability to impede the will of the people. Until Democrats are willing to engage in actual, meaningful compromise, the filibuster must end, and the majority must rule.