The news is abuzz over the heroic action of the Texas Democratic Caucus that left the state to go to DC so the Texas government could not vote on a new election law. The left is all aflutter over the bravery of these elected officials in denying the Texas legislature the quorum it needs to vote on a bill. In the meanwhile back in DC the left is up in arms over a Senate rule that that allows the minority to hold up a vote, called the filibuster.
If one is wrong the other is wrong and if one is right the other is right. Regardless of political position one of the mainstays of American governance is the right of the minority to have its say. Are the Texas Democrats playing a political game, of course they are. Will they pay a price, that remains to be seen. Are they Hero’s or tools. your call.
The concept of the filibuster has made headlines this week and it very existence has been threatened. What is a filibuster, its an attempt by the minority to slowdown, thwart or stop legislation they do not agree with. The filibuster is not explicitly granted in the constitution but is a part of the Senate rules, a process that is allowed by the constitution. The concept of filibuster goes back to Roman times and has been used in other governments. The philosophy behind the filibuster is much the same driving force that has been a part of American political philosophy since the beginning, protect the minority opinion from being smashed by an overbearing majority.
The constitution has a dual purpose, to set up the government and then to restrict its power. The filibuster is an extension of that restriction. It is also a political tool to prove that a Senator is representing their States wishes and some form of ideology. Senator Strom Thurmond used the filibuster several time while opposing civil rights legislation. Not only did he oppose the legislation he also went against his own party, Democrat, to represent what he felt was the opinion of his state. South Carolina. It takes a super majority. 60 Senators, to close debate which in many cases will allow it to go on for a long time.
Today, many of the majority Democrats have pushed to remove the filibuster from the Senate rules. This would allow for legislation that is popular for the moment to be passed by simple majority vote. The removal of rules that protect the minority from having any power to shape legislation is not a victory for democracy but a move toward a dictatorship of the majority. I would also point out to those who seek this to PLEASEThink what it will mean when they are no longer in the majority and the other party can legislate with no restrictions.