Filibuster reality

So, about the time I was ranting against the filibuster in class today, turned out that Krysten Sinema was giving an impassioned, completely a-historical, and, of-course, non-sensical defense of the filibuster.  Now, I’m far from sold on the particular voting rights bill and whether that’s worth bringing the filibuster down for filibuster lovers, but, overall the filibuster is an anti-democratic abomination.  Very good stuff here from Lawrence Lessig today:

I really also like the very simple argument… if a legislative super-majority is such a good thing how come basically no other democracy, but less no American state consistently relies upon it?

And, for the definitive takedowns, Ezra Klein in Vox and the NYT.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

9 Responses to Filibuster reality

  1. samhbrewer says:

    To riff on the article’s key question:

    “What Democrat could like this picture?”

    “…how could a Democrat,” — especially one who was a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of a state being carved up with surgical precision by voter suppression – “defend it?”

    Ask Cheri Beasley. And the NC democrats who about to overwhelmingly nominate her. She supports the filibuster.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Really? Ugh. Of course, I suspect that’s just a talking point to show how moderate she is to help win NC. I really doubt she’d give us absurd Manchin/Sinema vibes if she were elected.

      • samhbrewer says:

        How is that a moderate position when it is widely unpopular? Why would that help a dem win in any state? Warnock and ossof and all the other swing state dems in the senate,regardless of their states’ partisan lean, disagree with that strategic assessment. Keeping the filibuster is an unpopular position across all voters. It really only enjoys majority support among republicans and large donors. I have decided to believe politicians when they are willing to openly take positions unpopular with voters but popular with their major donors.

      • Steve Greene says:

        Lets be clear… voters are pretty much clueless about the filibuster. It’s just elite signaling (that *will* affect media coverage among other things) that pushes back against “liberal Democrat.” It’s not a matter of popular or unpopular. It’s a signal at the margins that she’s more “moderate” or “centrist” in a state where that is perceived as helping a Dem win statewide. A lot of “moderate” and “centrist” positions are asinine. It’s (almost) all signaling.

      • samhbrewer says:

        All good points, but… Voters are strongly in favor of government action even if they don’t know specifics about the filibuster. Are there any dem senators across the country being labeled liberal by the media for opposing the filibuster? She could choose lots of positions to signal her centrism, so why that?

  2. homeys44 says:

    Between 1932 and 1980, the Democrats had 55+ senators in all but 10 years, No surprise, not many filibusters. The Civil Rights Acts passed 73 to 27 in 1964. Now the Dems want to pass major stuff at 50 to 50, if they can hector Joe Manchin to go along.

    • samhbrewer says:

      As the article pointed out about that period, it was the norm to only filibuster bills that challenged white supremacy. Other types of bills were regularly allowed to pass with a simple majority of less than 60 votes. And since many of the committee chairs that controlled Congress during that time were white supremacist Democrats they didn’t often need to filibuster themselves because they would just never pass those bills out of their committees. The thing about the civil rights bills that marks them as an exception that proves the rule is that Lyndon Johnson had to overcome the filibuster to get it through and he managed to do it. And of course according to the constitution there is no requirement for how much a bill has to pass by to become law. Just that it must pass both houses.

  3. samhbrewer says:

    I retract. More recently Cheri Beasley has been on the record taking a position for at least reforming the filibuster. Hopefully that holds up if she wins and she some day ends up being the 50th vote to get us out of the filibuster period of American predemocracy

    • Steve Greene says:

      She’s not dumb. Ongoing support of the filibuster is not a very good position for a D candidate. (If he hadn’t dropped out out Jackson would’ve beaten over the head with this).

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