Hugh Hewitt explores for Washington Examiner readers the future prospects for the U.S. Senate’s filibuster, a longstanding tool for the minority party to help block legislation.

To invoke, or not to invoke, the “Reid Rule?” That is the single most important question facing Senate Republicans.

Simply put, if destroying what is left of the Senate’s tradition of the filibuster would save the country from terrible crises and hardship, almost every senator of both parties would vote to abolish it.

Indeed, all but one of the currently serving Senate Democrats who also served in 2013 voted with their leader to break the filibuster rule by simple majority, thus creating “the Reid Rule” that the rules of the Senate can be modified by a simple majority of the senators present. (West Virginia’s Joe Manchin voted against breaking the filibuster then, along with Carl Levin and Mark Pryor — the former retired, the latter was defeated in November.) …

… The filibuster is not part of the Constitution, however, and all that ever preserved it was a bipartisan sense of the necessity of maintaining a tradition that honored the role of the minority in a long-enduring Republic. Now with the president embarked on an unconstitutional abdication of his oath to faithfully execute the laws, along with his adventures with Cuba and Iran that have many in his own party alarmed, the question is squarely presented: Does the near term of the Republic’s future outweigh the long term interests of the Senate?

Hewitt seeks counsel from former senators Bill Armstrong and Jim Talent, along with theologian Wayne Grudem.

Talent and Grudem both pointed out that so much damage has been done by the president and his allies in Congress that the repair job will require passing laws, not merely halting the passage of additional ill-conceived statutes, and Grudem detailed a long list of crucially necessary reforms left for dead because of the filibuster, a list that grows longer every week. Much needs to be repealed and righted, and that won’t happen even with a Republican president and GOP Congressional majorities in 2017 if at least 41 Democrats remain in the Senate. This is an argument built on the urgency of the times and the scale of our problems at home and abroad.

Armstrong, now the president of Colorado Christian College, argues still for the long term interest of stability and comity, but recognizes as well that Republicans risk being patsies if, when the Democrats next return to the majority with a Democratic president, they simply invoke the Reid Rule again to jam through more big government laws.

The Armstrong suggestion: The GOP Senate leadership ought to require as a condition of laying down the Reid Rule now a written pledge — a solemn oath — signed by individual Democrats, that they will honor the legislative filibuster for the balance of their careers.