It's even worse than it appears.
Friday January 29, 2021; 12:18 PM EST
  • The NYT Daily podcast is sometimes very good, riveting even, and certainly useful. Esp covering the pandemic. But on politics, they are often in the woods. Taking something simple and not only making it sound complex, but saying that they're doing that. It's tricky. If I tell you right now there's no point reading further because you'll never understand what I'm saying, you might keep reading but you wouldn't understand. A certainty. Or if I say "You're not going to like this.." you won't like it. I've seen myself react this way. And later thought, hold on, I never got a chance to like it or dislike it! Oy. #
  • Anyway the history of the filibuster. It's one of those things like stock options that people feel they can't understand and in yesterday's Daily podcast they didn't help demystify it. I can't believe the reporter and interviewer didn't understand, but they kind of pretended they were confused. #
  • So here's a rough timeline of the advent and demise of the filibuster in the US Senate. #
    • It was a rule first adopted for the US Senate in 1917. It said this. If someone is talking endlessly, you can stop them, with a 2/3 majority. When you stop them, you can vote, and then a 51% majority rules. Simple. Before 1917 there was no way to shut up a speaker and start to vote, believe it or not. The vote to shut someone up is called cloture. #
    • In 1974 they made it so that when you're voting on money only, 51 percent rules. No filibuster allowed. You'll hear this referred to as "reconcilliation."#
    • In 1975, they dropped it to 3/5 or 60 votes. #
    • Then a key change. The speaker who wants to hold up the vote didn't actually have to take the floor and do the speaking. They just said they would do it if they had to. That was enough to prevent majority rule. One senator. That's pretty fucked up if you ask me. BTW, they call this a "virtual filibuster" on the Wikipedia page. Cool.#
    • In 2013, they made it so that it didn't apply to confirming cabinet members and judges, except for Supreme Court judges. Only in Supreme Court confirmations would 60 votes be required, all other confirmations required 51. #
    • And finally in 2017, they made it so it worked that way for Supreme Court judges too. #
  • Sometimes it's the Repubs and sometimes the Dems that change the rules. It's a dance. When it's the Dems it's the Repubs who forced them to do it. Not so sure about the other way. The Repubs are the obstructionist and flamethrowing party. #
  • The Dems are Charlie Brown, the Repubs are Lucy. #
  • Right now the filibuster can only be used for non-budgetary laws. There's a lot to that. For example, if you wanted to overhaul health care in the US, you'd need a "filibuster-proof" majority which is a fancy way of saying you need 60 votes. Practically speaking neither party can get that many, so if it holds the current Congress can only pass legislation about money, and of course confirm judges. #
  • Anyway the TL;DR version is that they're whittling it down, and probalby next time, it'll go away altogether, going back to where they were before 1917. Simple majority rule, speaking time limited by rule, not vote (as it is in the House). I think everyone understands that's the fair way to go. Otherwise 40 percent of the Senate, which often is much less than 40 percent of the people, can stop anything from happening. That's what happened during the Obama presidency when teh Repubs controlled the Senate, and they are poised to do it again. But this time the Dems have it in their power to nuke the filibuster, and end the tyranny of the minority. And if they have the votes and guts to do it, they should. Because someday soon the Repubs will do it, and the first to do it, gets the greatest reward. They can change things so that it's unlikely the Repubs ever get a majority in the Senate again. And since they have been a solid minority party for quite some time, it's time for their party to end. Regroup, come back to earth and try to get a majority of the votes. They'll have to stop being autocratic authoritarian conspiracy theorist nutjobs to get the votes, one would hope. 💥#

© 1994-2021 Dave Winer.

Last update: Saturday January 30, 2021; 10:48 AM EST.

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