Since reclaiming the Senate majority, most Democrats have been relentless in their pursuit of eliminating the filibuster to pass their sweeping progressive agenda. The push to kill the filibuster stands in stark contrast to how our Senate has operated since our country’s birth.
One of the core tenets of our legislative branch is bipartisanship – to pass legislation that is representative of not just a ruling majority but of all the American people. Without the filibuster, every bill would pass without any real debate or input from the minority party.
Fortunately, Democrat Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have decided to make the difficult decision to defend the filibuster even though it obstructs the goals of their own party. They understand that now, more than ever, is the time for Senators to resist inflicting more damage to our institutions.
Our founders strongly advocated for bipartisanship in our legislative branch. In Federalist Papers No. 10, James Madison began by stating, “Among the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.”
Madison understood the importance of forging compromise rather than having parties cut others out of the equation, and the role that protecting the sanctity of our democratic process plays in promoting stability.
Members of both parties have defended the filibuster over the years in the face of attempts to weaken or eliminate it. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the current Democrat leader in the Senate, added his voice in 2005, at a time when some Republicans were promoting the “nuclear option,” a procedural maneuver that would have eliminated the filibuster.
Schumer took the floor of the Senate to implore his colleagues to consider the damage of such a move. “We are on the precipice of a crisis. A constitutional crisis. The checks and balances which have been at the core of this republic are about to be evaporated by the nuclear option. The checks and balances which say that if you get 51% of the vote, you don’t get your way 100% of the time.”
Sen. Manchin also reminded his colleagues of their more recent defense of the filibuster. In an op-ed published just days ago, Machin wrote, “in 2017 when Republicans held control of the White House and Congress, President Donald Trump was publicly urging Senate Republicans to eliminate the filibuster. Then, it was Senate Democrats who were proudly defending the filibuster. Thirty-three Senate Democrats penned a letter to Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warning of the perils of eliminating the filibuster.”
The filibuster creates an environment in our Senate that forces majority parties to reach across the aisle and gain support from members of the minority to pass legislation. It therefore encourages more robust debate and establishes the need for compromises within our legislative process. In the long term, the filibuster unquestionably promotes a healthier environment that the Senate itself is supposed to represent without our Constitutional order.
This is a big reason why the Democrats’ attempts to remove the filibuster are especially troubling. Blinded by the desire to pass one-sided legislation, they currently lack the foresight to understand just what removing the filibuster would lead to. While it would allow them to pass more extreme policies, it would open the door for Republicans to reciprocate upon inevitably reclaiming the majority.
The filibuster consequently prevents a constant pendulum swing of radical legislation as the majority routinely exchanges hands between the two parties. Such legislative swings would lead to a scenario where no policy is able to fully realize its potential, as they would be shortly overturned with new legislation. Sen. Sinema sensibly cited such concerns in a recent statement about her decision to oppose eliminating the filibuster.
The American people deserve better than to have their federal institutions lose the strength to pass meaningful legislation able to endure time. Ultimately, the stability and power of our Legislative branch is at stake if other Democrats succeed in their war against the filibuster.
In his presidential farewell address, George Washington declared that “the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.” At this pivotal moment, Sens. Manchin and Sinema are those wise people restraining the undue forces of their own party for the sake of our country.