One can certainly ask if filibusters have lost all meaning other than a tool for modern day temper tantrums. The Republican Party has increased their use of filibusters to make their point against the Democrats. In fact, from 2007 to May 2012 the Republicans used 360 filibusters against the Democrats (Zelizer). The two party systems in the United States have become so belligerent in their dealings with each other causing the people to suffer.
Unfortunately, for the people of the United States, the modern day filibusters do not make good movie content. Real lives face real consequences when Congress cannot work together to develop programs, policies, and laws. The evidence has demonstrated the abuse of filibusters to stall any progress rather than to present alternative options (New York Times). The purpose is not to reach a consensus that benefits the people but to give power to one party over another. Arguments about the parties working for the people do not seem clear enough as many of the points of contention in the policies focus on the special interest groups needs rather the people. One timely example is the health care policy that has had a long hard battle and the result of which is not beneficial to the majority of businesses and taxpayers. Through the horribly cantankerous process, the filibusters did not bring about the results many hoped it had.
Filibusters have crippled the Senate to such an extent that little can pass without a fight (CREW). Bipartisanship no longer exists and the art of compromise has died long ago (CREW). The current state of the country lacks accountability causing the government to function inefficiently (CREW). The need to identify what is wrong with filibusters as used today is only important if Congress plans to change the process. The Republican Party views the filibuster reform need as a power dynamic that the Democrats seek to remove more power from them (Marziani). This demonstrates the mindset that the Republicans have regarding the issue of filibusters; it is the Republicans against the Democrats in all things even when it is an effort to better the process for the American people.
The Senate has in the last 10 years failed to vote and in several cases even deliberate bills that have the potential to address pressing issues in the country (Marziani, Backer, & Kasdan). Instead of doing what the people expect them to do, the Senate has played a very dysfunctional game of power struggle. In fact, according to Marziani, Backer, and Kasdan, “if congress is to fulfill the people’s mandate, the Senate must amend the rules that have become its tools for legislative dysfunction”. However, the desire to have power is greater than to resolve the power struggles to benefit the nation.
The opposing view of this subject is that the filibuster provides an opportunity for the minority party to have some recourse in the event no other options work. Keeping the filibuster as it is may not be popular, but it allows both parties a last ditch option when they feel no other exists.
The problems between the Republicans and Democrats are far more serious than to allow or change a filibuster. The two parties must examine their purpose in the government and if they are accomplishing it. Unfortunately, the evidence shows the power struggles are in the way of real progress in the United States. Until the Congress and the Senate see that, their inability to work together for the people, productive compromise, and move forward with meaningful debate the filibuster debate is the least of their problems.
- CREW. “Reforming a Broken Senate: Filibuster Reform”. CREW Policy. 2013. Web. 9 November 2013.
- Marziani, Mimi Murray Digby. “Filibuster Abuse”. Brennan Center for Justice. 2010. Web. 9 November 2013.
- Marziani, Mimi Murray Digby, Backer, Jonathan, and Kasdan, Diana. “Curbing Filibuster Abuse”. Brennan Center for Justice. 16 November, 2012. Web. 9 November 2013.
- The New York Times. “Filibusters and Debate Curbs”. The New York Times. 9 November, 2013. Web. 9 November, 2013.
- Zelizer, Julian. “Gridlock in Congress? Blame the GOP”. CNN Opinion. 21 May, 2012. Web. 9 November 2013.