by Adam Brandon
Democrats by no measure have a clear mandate in Washington. But they sure do act like it.
Senate Democrats know that they don’t have support for many items on their radical agenda, more of which Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to force votes on in the coming weeks. That’s why talks are recirculating in the Senate to end the filibuster once and for all.
Democrats are mistaken to say they have a mandate to do away with this parliamentary tool. Like much of their far-left policy agenda, that is not what the American people voted for. But Democrats know that killing the filibuster is the only way they can ram unpopular legislation through Congress.
For that reason and more, the filibuster should be protected at all costs. As with many things they don’t like, Democrats are quick to label it as a tool of oppression. In reality, it is an institutional safeguard that stands between them and their power-hungry ambitions. In fact, former President Obama defended the filibuster in the past against the nuclear option, but subsequently flipped this past summer and denounced it as a Jim Crow relic.
But this unfair characterization ignores the fundamental purpose of the procedure and the crucial role it plays in giving a voice to the minority.
The United States Constitution is founded on the principles of representative democracy, a system in which the majority is checked from wielding absolute and automatic power. In his first inauguration address, Thomas Jefferson reiterated these principles, saying: “Bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect and to violate would be oppression.”
Ending the filibuster would mean that the minority party is limited in its ability to do anything about a bill before it becomes law. Per our founding principles and representative style of government, major legislation demands input from those in the minority. Without the filibuster and three-fifths majority vote requirement, we move toward a one-party ruling system.
Let us also not forget that Congress has two chambers for a reason: The House and Senate each have distinct roles and are meant to act as checks on each other as well as the other branches of government. If all that was needed in the Senate to pass a bill was a simple majority, then why bother having two distinct legislative bodies? The three-fifths majority vote needed to pass major legislation in the Senate separates it from the House, where a simple majority is the norm. On the Senate floor, debate is supposed to be free from time constraints, and negotiations between parties is encouraged, even expected, to provide the minority party a chance to influence legislation and voice opposition.
Ultimately, killing the filibuster effectively kills debate, brings the required “yes” votes down from a three-fifths majority to a simple majority, and ensures the minority party has no leverage at all.
Liberals like to make a big deal about sticking up for minority voices, but in their quest for absolute power, they seem to have forgotten that rhetoric. For the time being, Democrats don’t have the votes to kill the filibuster. Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema remain opposed; President Biden isn’t keen on the idea, either. But there’s no reason to expect this sentiment will last.
For the sake of our republic — and yes, we are a republic — I hope that their opposition persists. If Senate Democrats succeed in killing the filibuster, our country will be on the path to direct democracy mob rule, which James Madison warned about. Mob rule might be what Democrats want, but it’s not what the Framers of our Constitution intended.
So make no mistake — the attempt to kill the filibuster is nothing more than a power grab from Senate Democrats so that they can pass sweeping legislation while they have the majority. In removing that long-standing feature of our democracy, they seek to fundamentally change our republican form of government forever. For the sake of minority rights, we cannot let this happen.
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Adam Brandon is the president of FreedomWorks, which advocates for smaller government, lower taxes, free markets, personal liberty, and the rule of law.
Photo “Chuck Schumer” by Senate Democrats. CC BY 2.0.