Mar 072010
Authors: Ian Bezek

I’ve become increasingly irritated by the incessant clamor to abolish the Senate’s ability to filibuster legislation. Democrats are claiming that the filibuster is preventing them from passing needed legislation.

If you’ve followed politics for more than one election cycle, you’d immediately catch the hypocrisy involved here.

Back in 2005, when Republicans were in control of the Senate and the presidency, Democrats repeatedly used the filibuster to block extremely Christian right-wing judges.

Republicans complained and initiated what Democrats called “the nuclear option,” an attempt to end the filibuster and require only 51 votes instead of 60 to confirm these judicial nominees.

Notorious right-wing Christian leader James Dobson said about eliminating the filibuster: “The future of democracy and ordered liberty actually depends on the outcome of this struggle.” That’s right, Republicans and far-right wingers were claiming that eliminating it was essential to saving democracy.

Democrats, led by Harry Reid and then-Senator Obama, led the charge to protect the filibuster back in 2005.

At the time, Obama expressed concern about the elimination of the filibuster, saying, “What I worry about would be that you essentially still have two chambers, the House and the Senate, but you have simply majoritarian, absolute power on either side, and that’s just not what the Founders intended.”

Obama, of course, was right then, only needing a simply majority to pass a bill does allow the tyranny of the majority.

Then senator and now Vice President Biden said in 2005 that, “This nuclear option (to end the filibuster) is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power. It is a fundamental power grab.” That it was; the Republicans were trying to use a simple majority to get radical judges appointed.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, who now leads the charge against the filibuster said, “No, we are not going to follow the Senate rules. No! Because of the arrogance of power of this Republican administration,” back in 2005. It takes an arrogant politician to know one apparently.

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., back in 2005 said about eliminating the filibuster, “Why have two chambers? What were the framers thinking about 218 years ago? They understood, Mr. President, that there is a tyranny of the majority.”

Now, of course, instead of having the Republicans as the majority, the Democrats are in charge.

As they say, a politician is a liar in a suit. It was nice of Democrats to at least act like they were going to change things after defeating Republicans, but instead, they merely hope we’ve forgotten their thundering rhetoric in support of the filibuster from merely five years ago.

The filibuster is essential to preserving democracy, as the Democrats so eloquently stated just a couple years ago. Just as it was needed to stop bad judicial nominees from the Republicans, it is now needed to stop bad health care legislation from the Democrats. Both parties do stupid things when the power goes to their heads.

Back in 2005, a Washington Post poll found that 66 percent of respondents opposed ending the filibuster, while just 26 percent supported its elimination. The James Dobson and Trent Lott wing of the political spectrum were prevented from using their passing majority to impose a tyranny of the majority upon us.

Now the majority of Americans, according to polling, are not convinced we need the proposed overhaul of the health care system that Democrats are proposing. Again, the filibuster is protecting us from legislation that a small majority of senators support.

After the mid-term elections, which promise to cause the Democrats to lose at least five senate seats, that majority will be nearly wiped away. Why should Democrats be able to use their fleeting majority to impose their will on a population that by and large doesn’t want it?

The founders knew what they were doing, and the filibuster has served us well for many years. Much of the time, Obama speaks of bipartisanship, which is the correct way to beat a filibuster. If he brought Republicans to the table, we’d already have a health care bill that was voted on and signed into law.

Instead, the Republicans are rightfully holding up the process. It’d be a shame if Democrats manage to take away their lawful right to do so, a right that Democrats fought so hard themselves to keep merely five years ago.

But Democrats are now hypocritically claiming that the filibuster is a threat to democracy, not a defender of it. That’s politics for you.

Editorials Editor Ian Bezek is a senior economics major. His columns appear Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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