A majority of Americans are pretty much clueless when it comes to the topic of the filibuster. The fact that it even exists is a real head-scratcher because its original purpose was only to delay the decision of a bill in the Senate. By definition: filibuster — Informal term for any attempt to block or delay Senate action on a bill or other matter by debating it at length, by offering numerous procedural motions, or by any other delaying or obstructive actions. act. The first filibuster was in 1837 when Whig senators chose to use the filibuster to try to stop those aligned with the Democratic-Republican President Andrew Jackson from stopping a resolution of censure against him. However those that have long held racist views saw the filibuster as a key tool to halt any of the bills of progress to move equality for people of color forward.
We already know that there are those on the far right (such as McConnell et al) that negate the fact that the filibuster has long been used to support a racist agenda. However, there is absolute NO better argument against this than the list that Joe Scarborough quoted on MSNBS’s “Morning Joe”
If you listen to nothing else — listen to this
Here are just SOME of the racist uses of the filibuster; as per The BrennanCenter:
“Anti-lynching legislation: During the first half of the 20th century, Southern senators successfully blocked many efforts to pass anti-lynching legislation, including in 1922, 1923, 1924, and 1935. In 1938, Southern senators again shelved an anti-lynching bill with a 30-day filibuster. Some Senate Republicans continue to filibuster legislation that would designate lynching as a federal hate crime, even now.
Anti–poll tax legislation: Filibusters mounted by Southern senators stopped anti–poll tax legislation in 1942, 1944, and 1946. It took a constitutional amendment adopted in 1964 to finally end poll taxes in federal elections.
Permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) bill: Southern Democrats staged a filibuster in the Senate, killing the bill in 1946. This legislation called for minority rights in the workplace.
Civil Rights Act of 1966: Senate Minority Leader Everett McKinley Dirksen led the opposition to the bill. With the support of a dozen Republican senators, Dirksen’s filibuster ultimately killed the bill because the Democratic leadership in the Senate failed to rally the two-thirds majority needed to invoke cloture. This legislation would have barred racial discrimination in the renting and sale of all housing.
National Popular Vote Amendment: Southern political leaders had long resisted any attempts to replace the Electoral College with the national popular vote. After Reconstruction, southern states benefited disproportionately from the Electoral College, since African Americans were now fully counted for purposes of representation but frequently could not vote (despite the formal protections outlined in the 15th Amendment). The national popular vote would have eliminated that benefit. When an amendment to abolish the Electoral College finally came to the floor of the Senate in September 1970, it was greeted by a filibuster led by Democratic segregationists Sam Ervin and Strom Thurmond (with help from the Nebraska Republican Roman Hruska)
Delayed legislation due to the filibuster:
Civil Rights Act of 1957: Infamously, Thurmond filibustered against this bill in 1957, though it was eventually passed and signed into law, setting the stage for important civil rights legislation to come. Relying on throat lozenges and dehydration, Thurmond held the floor for 24 hours and 18 minutes. After 12 hours, Sen. Paul Douglas of Illinois tried to speed matters along by placing a pitcher of orange juice on Thurmond’s desk, from which Thurmond drank a glass before an aide removed it. This legislation created the Civil Rights Section of the Department of Justice and gave the department’s lawyers greater authority to protect the right to vote.
Civil Rights Act of 1960: Despite the fact that Southern Democrats staged a 125-hour filibuster, Congress passed this legislation on May 6, 1960. This act guaranteed qualified voters the right to register to vote in any state and the right to sue a state official or acting state official who prevents them from voting.
Civil Rights Act of 1964: Southern senators launched a filibuster that held up this bill from February through June 1964, taking up 60 Senate working days, including 7 Saturdays. The filibuster ended when the Senate voted 71 to 29 for cloture. This major piece of civil rights legislation prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin (and later sexual orientation) in employment, public accommodations, voter registration, and education.”
However, we also need to recognize the ways that the filibuster have been used to stop really bad legislation that would have tipped our country. Again from the Brennan Center:
“By that light, the senatorial filibuster imposes a bulwark against ill-considered or demagogic legislation emanating from the House of Representatives. In 2018, for example, a national ban on abortion after 20 weeks passed the House but failed to gain cloture in the Senate. The filibuster has also prevented passage of harmful legislation originating in the Senate. In the 1970s and 1980s, consumer champions such as Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH) patrolled the Senate floor and used the filibuster to single-handedly stop egregious special-interest legislation. And in the mid-2000s, filibustering senators twice defeated a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.”
The Republicans elevated the use of the filibuster during President Obama’s administration. It has been noted that they used the filibuster more during that time than at any other time in history. This came as no surprise as McConnell had already announced that the Republicans would fight and reject anything and everything that Obama recommended, even before he walked into the White House.
Let’s be perfectly clear. NONE of the actions of the Republicans have anything to do with doing the job of serving the people and for the benefit of good governance. Their actions, including the overuse of the filibuster has been solely designed to promote their own power and that is NOT why they were elected. As with everything the Republicans seem to touch, they have made the choice to encourage racism at every turn.
An article in the BrennanCenter.org is succinct at the direction that we need to go:
“Today, our country has urgent needs. The struggle for democracy and racial justice must be at the heart of our politics. Chief among these goals must be repair of our democratic systems, which, this pandemic has revealed, are so evidently in need of renewal. Millions of Americans are calling for major reforms to ensure our democracy continues to function — overhauling our elections, creating stricter ethics rules for elected and appointed officials, limiting the poisonous influence of money in politics, and ensuring that voters choose their elected officials rather than the reverse. These reforms will make our institutions responsive to the popular will.
Under current Senate rules, however, a minority can stymie efforts to fix our broken system. Not slow those reforms, not deliberate, not debate, but simply block them. For that reason, democracy advocates and their elected champions must demand that the filibuster be eliminated. If we are to take the steps that are urgently needed to save our democracy, we at long last must abolish the filibuster.”
GQP Cheating: Filibuster and Voter Suppression
They Know they are Losing
The moment that the Republicans embraced the Tea Party they began a downward spiral. Extremism of that sort that not-so-cleverly hides racist dog whistle terminologies and attitudes as part of their agenda and then follows it up with the election of an orange-painted conman that has always failed was the conclusion of their pathetic attempt. The GOP (now known as the GQP for “QAnon”) has been busy the last few decades in their gerrymandering attempts to thwart any possibilities for Democrats to win in in districts redrawn to their benefit. They are now involved in trying to pass voter suppression laws in 45 states that are crafted to reduce the ability of those that are poor and people of color to have voting access.
This disgusting party of conservative wackos proved who they were by supporting the insurrection attempt on January 6th, 2021 and are now pushing legislation in states to make attempts to stop the very heart of the democratic process of voting. And no, they have shown ZERO proof that there is any voting fraud and there are over 60 judges that demonstrated the GQP idiocy by throwing the cases out of court for lack of proof.
The problem with the filibuster is that it is the “tool” of those in the Senate minority. As we have seen in history, when the Republicans were in the minority they use the filibuster to block important legislation for equal rights. However, getting rid of the filibuster is a slippery slope because at some point in the future, the Democrats may be in the minority and may indeed need the filibuster to block legislation that teeters our country on the brink of totalitarian rule (or worse). Adjusting or changing the filibuster an other rules could allow for future use while diminishing the power of the current Republicans.
The gerrymandering and voter suppression attempts have been going on for decades, and while some Democrats have been involved in the gerrymandering process, the Republicans have developed it into an art form.
The last five years have demonstrated that we are at the edge of the destruction of our democratic experiment. What we do and the decisions that we make now will be the destiny of whether the country survives as a Republic or moves further into Oligarchy. If the latter, the U.S. will inevitably go the way of all once-great nations that mistreated the general population and rewarded the rich. America will fall with a whimper unless we reform the filibuster and STOP voter suppression.