Midterms Signal a Permanent Change Could Be Coming for Democracy
(RightWing.org) – As Americans prepare to head to the polls on Tuesday, November 8, a lot is on their minds. Polls show inflation, crime, and education are at the top of the list. For some, abortion is also a major topic. Additionally, Democrats have argued democracy itself is on the ballot. It might be true, but perhaps not for the reason some are suggesting.
If Democrats retain the majority in the Senate and pick up two seats, they could move to end the filibuster — this parliamentary rule is a vital function of the upper chamber. If the Left gets its way, its removal will force the Senate to function more like the House, erode debate, and make partisanship its critical defining feature.
How and Why Does the Filibuster Exist?
The framers created the Senate to serve as a deliberative body and a check on the more passionate House, which works on majority rule. The filibuster is the mechanism that ensures deliberation. According to the US Senate website, before 1917, there wasn’t a means in the upper chamber to end debate so lawmakers could vote on legislation. That year, Senators agreed to a new number allowing a two-thirds majority to end a filibuster, known as “cloture.”
In 1975, they reduced the vote from two-thirds to three-fifths, meaning 60 out of 100 senators must agree to cloture to end debate and vote on legislative proposals. It’s the same process still used to this day.
Those who support the rule say it’s vital to democracy and ensures the Senate doesn’t act like the House. It forces bipartisanship through negotiation.
What Might Happen If Democrats Abolish the Filibuster?
The Senate process ensures lawmakers gain a consensus to pass legislation. It guarantees the minority political party is a participant in the legislative process and provides even a single senator with influence. In 2021, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) single-handedly killed President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better proposal. Regarding the filibuster, only Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) pushed back on its elimination.
If Democrats were to pick up two seats on Tuesday, they could override two of their own who oppose the move. If it happens, the check against partisanship, legislative extremism, and safeguards that ensure the Senate remains deliberative will disappear. It would likely throw Congress into anarchy.
If one party has simple majorities in each chamber of Congress, they could easily and speedily push through extreme legislation. Ultimately, as voters switch sides, the two political parties would respond in kind, reversing the other party’s legislation and pursuing their own radical agendas. It’s likely to deepen the country’s polarization and animosity towards one another.
As it stands, RealClearPolitics (RCP) projects the GOP will flip four Democratic seats for a 54 to 46 majority come January. If it comes to fruition, Democrats will unlikely argue against eliminating the filibuster because they won’t have the votes to pass their agenda and because eliminating it would no longer benefit their party.
Still, should it survive?
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