by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
When West Virginia’s Joe Manchin closed the door on eliminating the legislative filibuster this week, promising not to “weaken or eliminate” the 60-vote threshold, he “dashed” the “dreams” of Democrats, according to The New York Times.
Hypocrisy is nothing new in Washington, but it takes a preternatural shamelessness to have participated in over 300 filibusters, as Democrats did in the past few years, and then one day turn around and treat the procedure as an odious racist relic that threatens “democracy.”
But this is an emergency, norm-breakers will tell you. Isn’t it always? Senator Jacky Rosen, after a quick reversal of position, told The Washington Post that she would nuke the procedure only “in the case of protecting democracy.” Of course, if we adopted the Democrats’ evolving standard of “voting rights,” then we’d be forced to treat every election before 2020’s free-for-all as illegitimate.
If Democrats truly believe that voter-integrity laws in Georgia or Texas are unconstitutional and a threat to democracy, they should take those states to court, where these issues could be adjudicated, rather than trying to upend the system in a power grab.
“We do need to start testing this idea that the filibuster promotes bipartisanship,” Senator Chris Murphy told the Times. “I would hope that everyone is open to having their theories proved wrong if they don’t have evidence to prove their theories right.” It’s not a theory. The fact that the filibuster has, for now, put an end to unilateral partisan efforts in passing generational reforms only highlights the value of the filibuster. Democrats are now compelled to find Republican votes if they want to remake the nation’s laws.
Or not. Doing nothing is tacit bipartisan compromise as well.