Nothing Romantic About It: A History of the Filibuster

Nothing Romantic About It: A History of the Filibuster November 21, 2013

The United States Senate is grossly undemocratic…even without the filibuster.

Today, the Senate moved to limit the use of the filibuster when it comes to certain presidential appointments.

The filibuster is a mechanism within the United States Senate which allows a minority of Senators to continue the debate and, as a result, prevent a bill from being voted on. Like the Electoral College, I am fascinated by the filibuster as a political scientist. It is part of the twisted chess-like game which is American politics. Like the Electoral College, it is an aspect of American politics that I cannot defend.

Timothy Noah provides an insightful and devastating look at the historical development of the filibuster in this brief commentary that he delivered in 2010 on CBS New Sunday Morning:

Take a look at the clip. It is only 2 minutes and 43 seconds in length.

While I also blame Frank Capra for romanticizing the filibuster within American culture, there is plenty of blame on both sides of the aisle in Congress for why this arcane procedural rule still torments the law-making process.

Unlike the electoral college, the filibuster is not etched in the the United States Constitution. The Senate can get rid of it. It does not need approval, consent, or input from the U.S. House or the White House.

The Senate has move a step in the right direction. It is time to get rid of it all together.

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