In this post, Bricker rather snidely, and with an implied but deniable dash of come-see-the-liberal-hypocrisy, asks what people think about the filibuster.
And it’s an interesting topic.
I have two questions:
(a) It’s the general consensus board/left belief that the current Republican senate uses the filibuster in a qualitatively different way than any previous senate, in that they just reflexively filibuster EVERY substantive bill that the dems propose, effectively meaning that any law or appointment of any sort needs a supermajority. (I say “substantive” because I’m sure they don’t filibuster proposals to name National Accordion Awareness Month and things of that ilk).
(a1) Is there some objective way to test or demonstrate that this is true? Could we, for instance, count how many “real” bills have been voted on and passed by majorities of between 51 and 59 votes in this as compared to previous congresses?
(a2) Assuming the general view is true, it seems to me to be related to the fact that the current Republican party is SO lockstep. That is, in days past even if there were 41 of the minority party, the leader of that party couldn’t just say “ok, we’re filibustering this” and be 100% guaranteed of 41 filibustering votes period always no matter what, because individual senators wouldn’t necessarily agree, and would sometimes stray from full party compliance. Am I correct in thinking that there’s much less of that now than in times past?
(b) So what DO we think of the filibuster, in general? For me, it’s very hard to separate it from the current political climate, so I will be honest enough to admit that maybe I would feel different if a different party were the minority in the senate right now, etc. But I guess my feeling is that the filibuster as an exceptional check or balance is different from the filibuster as a routine response to anything. Which sounds a lot like “it’s OK when the democrats used to do it, but bad when the republicans do it now”. Which is what makes me question my belief enough to start this thread, but doesn’t make it automatically invalid or incorrect.
I certainly think that the “procedural filibuster” is a bad idea. If someone, or some party, cares enough to invoke the filibuster, then I want people to be able to turn on CSPAN and see someone reading the phone book, and think to themselves “this is what my senators are doing… do I really care enough about issue X to want the entire congress to grind to a halt over it?”.