Who Hates Filibusters?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Captain’s Quarters, a conservative blog, looks at the Senate’s apology for failing to pass anti-lynching legislation decades ago and concludes… that the Senate ought to be apologizing for the filibuster. I agree! The filibuster is a terrible thing, and has long been a terrible thing throughout history. The captain gets his facts a bit muddled (Southern Democrats most certainly did control the Senate, via committee chairmanships that they acquired through seniority), but his larger point is correct. Were it not for the filibuster, this country would have had: anti-lynching laws, faster progress on civil rights, universal health care, stronger labor rights. In other words, it would have been easier, in general, to pass progressive legislation. I’m glad that conservatives are hopping aboard this project, for whatever reason.

Now does that mean the filibuster is inappropriate in all cases? No, not necessarily. I happen to think it’s an appropriate measure, on principle, for judicial nominees, though I’ll admit I’m not really all that adamant on this point. But it’s also true that liberals have found, more often than not throughout history, that they have the votes to pass progressive measures, only to be quelched by a handful of reactionaries in the Senate wielding the filibuster. The most recent case I can think of was a labor bill during the Clinton administration that would have prevented striking workers from being permanently replaced. Blocked by Republicans. (They also ran the clock out on the health care debate in 1993 with the filibuster.) So yes, right now is certainly as good a time as any to use the Senate’s shameful history on anti-lynching as an opportunity to examine whether having a sluggish and wholly unrepresentative legislative chamber is the best thing for this country to have, both now and in the future.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate