The Filibuster, Explained

Many … perhaps most … do not quite understand what is meant by ‘filibuster’. Our friend Jeff’s post will clarify what, exactly, the filibuster is, its origins, and how it has most often been used. Thanks, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

There’s been much debate in recent years about the efficacy of the filibuster. The Republican Party has used the arcane process to block specific meaningful legislation that would have been beneficial to millions of Americans. To be clear, Democrats have also used the filibuster; blocking judges or presidential appointees, for example.

But it’s time to take a look at what the filibuster is, what are its origins, and what important legislation it has stopped from becoming law. A couple of things stand out. For one, there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that mentions anything about the filibuster. It’s simply a Senate rule that’s been in place for nearly 200 years. Secondly, the process was born out of pure unadulterated racism — a mechanism that allowed the despicable practice of slavery to continue being used, mostly by wealthy white land owners in the South.

To take a deeper dive into…

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8 thoughts on “The Filibuster, Explained

  1. I saved this comment I wrote on Jerry’s blog just in case it did not show up there. I lose more work on his blog than any other. So far, it has not appeared there.

    Please note, the filibuster is not an American invention! Please do not try to take credit where there is no credit due.
    I would say Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar, but that would be a misnomer, because the first known instance of a filibuster was actually used against Caesar in 67 B.C. Cato the Younger used it to block a vote by talking until dusk, which was what ended the Roman Senate for the day. If a vote was not taken by dusk, the topic was set aside. So, Cato the Younger was the first known filibusterer. IT WAS NOT JOHN C. CALHOUN, who was nothing but a copyCato.
    However, down to business: When the minority controls the majority, it is no longer democracy. I understand it happens, but why is it being allowed to continue to happen? Yeah, some fool wants to talk for days, let him. But make sure, when he finally shuts up, there are enough people present to outvote the filibusterer!
    Was that not the original purpose of doing this in modern times, where there is no dusk rule? Talk until your party has the majority present in the legislative body, and then demand a vote you know you could not win under normal circumstances! (Americans were not even the first to do this. It has been happening as long as democracy has been around!)
    But enough rhetoric! Get rid of it! A filibuster has no more place in government than does a President”s right to make an Executive Order.
    One thing I find ridiculous in American politics is to elect a president to be the main governor, but not necessarily giving him the power to at least have a chance to get proposed legislation enacted. What good is a lame duck president? I admit, there are times it works it for the best, but only when a president is not working in the best interests of We the People.. I would have loved to have seen Trump become a lame duck, but you were not so lucky.
    British/Canadian/Australian etc. government has its own problems, but at least the big mucky muck has to have the backing of his own party, or coalition to get things done. If not, out he or she goes, and a new election can be called for at any time. Yes, we still get a lot of petty dictators, but they have to at least appear to be working for the betterment of the nation they preside over. Trump proved that is not necessary in America, and McConnell proved you don’t even have to filibuster to stop legislation, you just don’t bring it up for a vote. Such is the very antithesis of democracy. And American voters were forced to allow it to happen.
    ‘Nuff said.

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  2. I give you an apt quote from a fellow from another time and another place, yet it is apt as regards the Filibuster.
    “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!” – Oliver Cromwell to the Long Parliament 20th April 1653

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  3. The filibuster must go if any meaningful legislation is to get through. Climate control is in the interest of the people and the senate majority would vote for it. Big business and a Republican minority don’t want it so the minority win. How is this possible. The whole point of a majority is that the larger number should win. This is both Unconstitutional and undemocratic. After 4 years of Trump and the Republicans in power, January 20th was supposed to bring about a change. Ask the people by referendum whether they want the filibuster gone and. whether it can be done with the slimmest majority. If the people decide it can then pass it.

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    • I haven’t read the details yet, only the headlines, but apparently there was a compromise and the filibuster stays. Sigh. I can’t see how anything will ever get done in Congress for at least the next two years. The whole thing is indeed unconstitutional and undemocratic, and it seems to me we have proven that we, the nation, is not capable of self-governance. I think it’s time for you guys to take us back under your wing, but first, please get rid of BoJo and hire Keir Starmer or somebody with some sense! Sadly, it isn’t up to the people … nothing is anymore, except who they vote for, and even that is sometimes skewed by gerrymandering. We have very little voice anymore. Sigh.

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