Skip to main content

What does the filibuster teach our children?

After learning that the principles of majority rule and democracy are the grandest and noblest of all political ideas, that the sacrifices of the Revolutionary War were required to establish them for our nation, that they were a reaction against thousands of years of despotic history, that they were subsequently adopted by many other nations, that they were enshrined in our Constitution by the courageous and brilliant Founders; students then learn that 41 Senators representing just 11% of the nation's population can block action on anything, even if it's favored by the other 89%.

WHAT?

What lesson does this teach our children and others around the world yearning for democracy? It sends the message that it is acceptable (even right and just, if you listen to filibuster apologists) for minority factions to thwart the majority, that being in the majority does not mean that you deserve to prevail, that a minority has the right to block the will of the majority.

The filibuster sends a profoundly subversive and anti-democratic message; one that undermines democracy, trust in our form of government, and the rule of law. It's also a dangerous message as extremists and despots of all stripes take heart from the message that it's the right of a minority to thwart the majority and to impose unwanted outcomes on it.

An essential characteristic of democracy is majority rule. Within the limits of individual rights and authorities set out in a constitution, the will of the majority prevails in a democracy. It is the right of the majority to pass its policies and legislation. If the electorate later changes its mind, it is the right of subsequent majorities to change those policies and laws.

Much is written of the rights of the minority, but what of the rights of the majority? The rules of the Senate blatantly violate both the rights of the majority and the principles of democracy.

In a democracy, the right of the minority is this: the right to be heard in order to try to persuade others to your view. If you are still in the minority after making your case, then you lose the day. The majority wins. And if the minority has had its say, then it is the responsibility of the minority to go along with the majority. That's how a democracy works. You don't hear any of today's filibuster apologists talking about the responsibilities of the minority, do you?  

The Founders would be appalled to see how the Senate has twisted the minority right to be heard into the right to permanently block any action a minority faction doesn't like.

The filibuster is an obscenity in the soul of our democracy.

The Constitution gives each house of Congress the power to make its own rules, but the Senate rules allowing filibusters are an irresponsible abuse of that power, and it is strangling our democracy, our government, our society, and our economy.

Think about what that teaches the children.

You can read more quiet outrage about the filibuster in The Senate: a crime against democracy.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site