Filibuster: Make a Minority Pick Its Battles Carefully

I was contemplating throwing my hat into the NC D-primary for the US Senate well over a year ago; but for multiple reasons, personal and otherwise, I decided to drop the effort.  But abuse of the filibuster rule was an issue I wanted to tackle.

I personally agree with a filibuster rule.  For important legislation it should take more than just a majority vote of Senators.  Otherwise, any party having a simple majority in both houses could push through any piece of legislation it wanted, and that would not be in the best interest of the public.

The way the rule is being used now, a minority party can essentially block any piece of legislation it doesn’t care for from even coming to debate.  And that wasn’t the intent of the rule; that is abusive.  Such use actually mocks the will of the people who voted a particular party into power.  It was not the public’s will to have debate only on issues that the minority agrees.   And, what the public perceives is that they voted in a majority party, and the majority seems hapless.  And frustration abounds.

What is missing is the importance of the minority having to pick its battles carefully.  We have to do that in business all the time.  One must be careful in deciding what battles to fight.  Taking to battle on too many fronts is often interpreted as a sign of inflexibility, and support for that individual erodes.  Today, there is no consequence for a minority party in the Senate to block debate on whatever it disagrees with; and that’s just not right.

My belief is that invoking the filibuster should involve occupying the floor as it did in the past.  It would help to make a minority choose its battles carefully as the filibuster becomes quite visible.  And the public would have little appetite for the Senate floor being tied up continuously with filibuster after filibuster by a minority party.  Just as an individual would be perceived as being inflexible in the business world, so would the minority in the eyes of the public.  And just as a combative executive risks being shown the door, so would an obstructive party during the next election cycle.

Both parties should be able to live with that – it’s just good business and honors the will of the people.

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