To Filibuster Democracy, or Not

The tension between Democratic and Republican politicians is greater than at any time I can remember. The Republicans have no policy agenda; they just focus on obstruction just as they did to the Black President about whom they preferred to remain in complete denial. At least Joe Biden seems to have learned the lesson of avoiding Obama’s failure of not going big when you have the chance. Yet he seeks the same “bipartisanship” that was the hopeless dream denied for Obama.

The Democrats face an opposition party whose primary goal is to oppose, everything, rather than offer alternatives to the party in power. The Democrats must find ways to achieve their goals without any support from those whose only post-Trumpian goal is to placate their white-racist base.

The nation and the world need major new initiatives to stave off economic collapse, to address the climate emergency, ecological and agricultural chaos, and to dodge complete political breakdown. To rely on the institutional nihilists on the other side of the isle to help out would be to court disaster.

The Filibuster Trumps Democracy (No pun intended, just a parallel)

Of course, the parliamentary procedure called filibuster, like the U.S. Senate itself, is highly undemocratic. No other modern nation that claims to be a democracy has a filibuster. Never mind the convoluted history of how the rules of cloture and the filibuster evolved. In recent decades, legislation that promotes the interests of the people over those of the wealthy elites who fund most politicians, has frequently failed or been watered down to be ineffective by the use of these rules when a majority of senators favor it.

Democrats have had opportunities before to reform or eliminate the filibuster when they held a majority in the Senate and each time has balked, often because they thought they might want to use it when they later became the minority.

I fear that such false futurism may be causing much of the resistance to democratic change today. In fact, the filibuster is a destructive tactic that will likely stop the most important and progressive legislation the Democrats will have ever proposed. The aspirations expressed in the Green New Deal, and in the similar proposals in Biden’s climate agenda, are widely supported by the American people because the majority now understand that our profligate pollution and waste are destroying our habitat, destroying our health, and threatening our lives.

Saving Our Lives by Saving Democracy

The Democratic Party politicians have always been a cautious lot. They take too much heed of Republican accusations of unpatriotic and socialistic tendencies. Yet, the actual opinions of the public, after the propaganda has cleared away and the facts come out, broadly agree with progressive policies designed to support the welfare of the American people rather than give away even more tax breaks and financial deals to the corporate super-rich.

The Dem’s used the “budget reconciliation” procedure to get the wildly popular 1.9 trillion dollar American Rescue Act, with not one Republican supporting it in either the House or the Senate. That will not be so easy (it was hard) with legislation on the climate emergency, infrastructure, clean energy policy, etc.

If the Dem’s don’t eliminate or at least reform the filibuster now, they will fail to accomplish the changes the American people desperately need. Then the people will vote them out of their thin majority and the anti-democratic shell of a Republican party will again take control and pander to the fascist tendencies of their rich donors, destroying democracy completely.

On the other hand, if the Senate Democrats step up and reform Senate procedures and pass legislation to “come back better,” then the people will reelect them to a stronger majority that can finish the job of reestablishing democracy in a livable America.

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