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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: Why Dems Must Kill the Filibuster

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

Hey Hey, Ho Ho, the Senate Filibuster’s Got to Go!

Kind of catchy huh? But more importantly, absolutely true. Ron Brownstein does the best job I’ve seen of making the case Democrats have no choice but to get rid of the filibuster–well, if they want to get anything done that is.

In this context, it’s interesting to note that Warren has probably been the most forceful in advocating the elimination of the filibuster while Biden has been perhaps least enthusiastic (he called it “very dangerous” recently). So if it comes down to Biden vs. Warren, we could, based on current data, have a candidate who is most likely to get elected but couldn’t govern vs. a candidate less likely to get elected but who could actually govern. Interesting tradeoff.

“Even if Democrats regain unified control of the White House and Congress in 2020, the fate of their ambitious legislative agenda will still likely hinge on a fundamental question: Do they try to end the Senate filibuster?

If the party chooses to keep the filibuster, it faces a daunting prospect: Democrats elected primarily by voters in states at the forefront of the country’s demographic, cultural, and economic changes will likely have their agenda blocked by Republican senators largely representing the smaller, rural states least touched by all of those changes. In fact, since the Senate gives each state two seats, the filibuster allows Republican senators from states representing only about one-fifth of the country’s population to be in a position to stymie Democratic legislation….

If Democrats take back the Senate, preserving the filibuster amounts to providing the places most resistant to America’s changes a veto over the agenda of the Democratic coalition based in the places that are most welcoming to them. In a Senate controlled by Democrats, the filibuster would effectively empower what America has been over what it is becoming.”

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