If we can all agree that the filibuster has become problematic (frankly for both sides, for both Democrats and Republicans), the question is, how do we reform the filibuster? There seem to be two options:
- Eliminate it entirely.
- Return to a “talking” filibuster.
Mark me down in agreement with the “two Joes” — Biden and Mancin — that completely eliminating the filibuster carries with it certain risks. There may come a time in the future, such as in 2017-2018, where the Republicans could hold the House, Senate and Presidency together, and at that point there would be no limiting the mischief they could make.
A talking filibuster isn’t much of a brake, but it’s a little bit of a brake.
On the other hand, nothing prevents the Republicans from blowing up the filibuster the next time they are in the majority.
And one of the ironies of the “For the People” Act is that without the voter suppression that the Act would limit, the Republicans might never get back the House, Senate and Presidency, at least not until they abandon their current strategy of running on race baiting and the culture wars.
In any case, the reform that I would support is going back to the “talking” filibuster, the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington filibuster, the Wendy Davis Texas filibuster, the Strom Thurmond 24-hour filibuster, the one where you have to put on your adult diapers, hydrate yourself, and then keep the floor without going to the bathroom, without drinking, without eating, or without engaging in any other bodily function.
I mean, Strom Thuromd was completely on the wrong side of history, but at least he had the courage of his convictions.
On behalf of a much better cause, former Texas State Senator (and one-time gubernatorial aspirant) Wendy Davis spent 13 hours in 2013 filibustering a Texas bill that banned abortion at 20 weeks post-fertilization and added other restrictions. (This bill was eventually enacted.)
Discomfort is supposed to be the point.
In the meantime, the “For the People” Act may be the defining issue for the Congress for the next few years if not the next decade.