We Must End Both the Filibuster and “Filibuster Culture” in America

The Senate filibuster, with its long and often shameful history of anti-democracy, has spilled out into the country at large.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

The filibuster was not created by the Founders, is not in the Constitution, was not in any way a part of the thought process when the Senate was created and began its work. The filibuster came into existence not by design but by accident due to a clerical oops. Only in America right?

In 1806, Vice President Aaron Burr noted that Senate rules were a mess and many rules were redundant, and he remarked that the Senate should get rid of the “previous question motion” since it seemed to be never used and never needed, so clean the books up and get rid of it. And that is what they did, they got rid of that provision in the Senate rules. The “previous question motion” was the means to formally and officially put an end to debate by a simple majority vote. Rule gone. Door open to unlimited debate, and eventually it much later occurred to some Senators that they could make use of unlimited debate as a means to block a measure: You just talk it to death. The filibuster was born of a bit of clerical housekeeping creating an exploitable loophole. The word filibuster, by the way, derived from the Spanish “filibustero” which means “pirate,” and the Dutch “vrijbuiter” “freebooter.” I’m not making any of this up.

That is what Democracy is. Winners get what they won, and losers accept that they lost and strive to fight another day, in a future election, but do not strive to fight to block the functioning of democracy itself.

Democracy has not yet prevailed in America. Democracy has been ill for several decades, and has been in the intensive care unit since January 6th. Let all who support the concept of Democracy, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, all of us, do all we can to help the patient pull through, and at least be discharged from the ICU, even if the patient must remain in the hospital for a long time yet.

A private person, now living mostly “off the grid.” I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science (and photo is from the 80s, I’m hopelessly nostalgic)

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