Other’s opinion: Filibuster: Reform voting to serve voters

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Free Press, Mankato

The filibuster is busting American democracy.

The arcane rules of procedure in the U.S. Senate at one time had a purpose of giving the minority some power as a check and balance on the potential abuse of power by the majority.

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But the filibuster has been twisted into a method to stall progress — any progress — by a minority party or even a single minority senator. It must be reformed or rejected outright. Most Americans don’t understand the nuances of using the filibuster or the power of the parliamentarian. And they shouldn’t have to understand it. Governing shouldn’t be this difficult.

Americans understand one person one vote. It’s common sense. We should embrace the principle by reforming the filibuster, and if that doesn’t work, we should get rid of it.

And just as Congress has made governing more complicated, it must clean it up when it becomes sand in the gears of progress.

Smart people are offering good ideas for reform. President Joe Biden is calling for creating a filibuster that operates in a way it did years ago, where members must stand up and speak for hours if they truly want to delay legislation. In years past, the vote for ending the debate would come more easily after filibuster leaders grew tired of talking. The current system makes no such requirement. Calling a filibuster is as easy as calling for take-out food.

Others have called for changing the standard of 60 votes to move legislation forward, or end a filibuster, to calling for 41 votes to start a filibuster.

We like the idea of making members of Congress work hard if they believe in a filibuster. Maybe that would turn down the temperature of partisan vitriol and reduce the time they have for cable news shows.

Even the Constitution spells out the instances when more than a majority vote is required. The filibuster is not one of them. There is no filibuster rule in the Constitution. And ending the filibuster will not, like almost all legislation, hurt one side more than the other.

Both parties will either suffer the consequences or benefit from the 51 majority rule. That’s the way democracy should work.