02.28.2010 0

In Defense of the Filibuster

  • On: 03/15/2010 10:12:33
  • In: Hard Left
  • By Chris Slavens

    Never mind that Democrats have controlled both the House and the Senate since 2007, following wins in the 2006 midterm election. Never mind that a Democratic president was elected in 2008. Never mind that congressional Democrats wasted the year that followed, during which they could have passed virtually any piece of legislation they desired, but chose instead to bicker over the details of a socialist health-care takeover. Why focus on these facts, when one can choose instead to dine from the ruling party’s ever-growing buffet of lies?

    The newest lie is that Senate Republicans, by using the filibuster (which enables forty-one senators to stall the other fifty-nine), are exercising legislative tyranny and obstructing progress.

    The GOP is portrayed as a bunch of right-wing meanies standing in the way of not only government, but the will of the people. This “Party of No” myth has been pushed aggressively since the election of Republican Scott Brown, “Mr. 41.” Prior to his victory, Republicans could have been outvoted on health-care reform, federal handouts, welfare increases, and all the rest, had only the bumbling Democrats been able to get their act together.

    As members of both parties know, but tend to forget when they are in the majority, the filibuster exists for a reason. The fact that it is stalling a radical anti-American agenda is not indicative of flawed design or failure of purpose; like a well-built dam holding back the crushing waters of a raging river, the filibuster is functioning precisely as intended by protecting citizens’ interests from a legally elected, yet ideologically traitorous, majority.

    It seems likely that so-called progressivism will be dealt a severe blow in the next election; until then, we ought to be grateful for any tool, including the filibuster, able to impede its march.

    Certain members of the majority have proposed changing the Senate’s rules. They would abandon the filibuster and institute majority rule, by which party-line votes could determine the law of the land. But what proponents forget, or perhaps ignore, is that the Senate was never intended to reflect fickle public opinion like the House. When the hot-headed masses are ready to sprint in a new direction, it is the Senate that says, “Hold on. Slow down. Let’s think about long-term consequences, not just short-term political advantages.”

    More importantly, the structure of the Senate protects small states from large ones. Doing away with the filibuster could result in a voting divide that would be not only ideological, but geographical. Currently, the South and Midwest are dominated primarily by conservative and libertarian influences, while the Northeast and West coast favor a big-government brand of liberalism. What will happen if 49% of the country is consistently outvoted by 51%, on matters of principle as well as policy? A second round of secession and civil war? God help us; the U.S. would not—could not—survive it.

    It is tempting for any Senate majority, whether Democratic or Republican, to rid itself of the troublesome filibuster, but it is far better for both sides to trust in the wisdom behind it, even if it means abandoning an impatient president’s agenda during an election year. Democrats make up the majority today, but inevitably will be reduced to the minority, as a result of the endless power cycle of American government and politics.

    Remember, Democrats, November is coming. You might not lose the Senate, but don’t feel too smug; 2012 is also coming. Discard the filibuster now, and, sooner or later, you will want it back.

    Chris Slavens, former contributor to the Wilmington News Journal, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.


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