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Lord, reform the filibuster, but not yet (1 Viewer)


In the wake of this Politico article on the filibuster, there seems to be a lot of chatter about whether Democratic presidential candidates should pledge to eliminate it if Dems regain the trifecta in 2021. My view is that, the way things have gone over the past few decades, the eventual elimination of the legislative filibuster is inevitable. But discussing it now, during the primary campaign, is simultaneously weird, presumptuous, dangerous and ultimately too narrow of a debate.


It's true that many of the Dems running are currently serving in the Senate, but it seems odd to press them to support something that, if they win, they will have no voice in actually changing (I guess technically you could argue that the next Democratic president will choose the next VP, who will be able to vote on any rules changes).


As Bernie points out in that article, Dems haven't won anything yet. Even if you think Trump is a dead man walking (which I don't), in order to take back the Senate next year they have to net three seats, and that includes an AL seat they will almost certainly lose. So we're likely talking pick-ups in CO, ME, and then two more from AZ, IA, NC and TX. Not a single one of those will be easy. (Also, as the article points out, Dems were talking about this stuff before Hillary's inevitable win in 2016, and look how that turned out.) So we would all be wise to heed the immortal wisdom of Mr. Winston Wolfe.


While it's no guarantee that Dems take the trifecta, it's also not guaranteed that Republicans don't. They would only need to hold the White House and Senate and then recapture the House, which remains structurally skewed in their favor. And if Democrats have just spent an entire campaign pledging to get rid of the filibuster, it will be that much easier for Trump, McConnell and incoming Speaker Mark Meadows ( :shock: ) to follow their lead and implement a right-wing dream agenda.

Too narrow

The problem ultimately is not the legislative filibuster, it's that the Senate is fundamentally broken. In addition to the 60-vote threshold for legislation, the filibuster allows the minority endless opportunities to delay nominations solely for the purpose of gumming up the works. Meanwhile, the reconciliation process, which allows simple majorities for budget-related matters, has become widely overused while also distorting the structure of proposed legislation in order to make sure it is considered "budget related". If you want to reform the Senate (which, again, is not an issue that needs to be litigated during the Democratic primary), you should start with a vision of how the Senate can function and then work backward on which reforms are needed.

By the way, best quote in that article is from Warren: "Everything is on the table". That is all Dems need to say right now.


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