It’s the Filibuster Stupid

When you ask people what the problems with the Senate is, you get a lot of typical answers; the loss of comity, partisanship, ideological polarization, etc. And those things all may contribute to what’s going on, but at the end of the day the problem begins and ends with the filibuster. Not getting along with the other side or imagining them to be acting in bad faith doesn’t really add to the problem, if anything it may help the problem to a degree. After all, if everyone is a good faith actor who honestly believes they have good ideas for the country, then by extension they must believe that the other sides ideas,no matter how well meaning, are at least less good for the country. How can good faith actors cast votes to help pass an agenda they thin is bad for the country? So even if everyone is nice to each other, and even in th unlikely circumstance that members of the minority set aside electoral concerns entirely, you’re still basically hoping that members of the minority will help pass policy the simply don’t agree with. The presumption is absurd, of course, unless you imagine that political disagreement doesn’t really exist, except as a side-effect of “partisanship and polarization,” which seems to be a common undercurrent in Beltway-establishment commentary. But whichever way you want to look at it, the problem is the say; the minority has the procedural ability to keep the majority from passing legislation altogether. Whether they’re cravenly looking to bolster their electoral fortunes or simply honestly believe the bill in question is bad policy (and obviously those motives are not mutually exclusive) is beside the point.