American Filibuster Must Die: Its History is a Bald-Faced Lie

An excellent write-up of the history of the American filibuster makes it absolutely clear how it’s rooted in blocking civil-rights, and its supporters are spreading lies about history to cover-up this fact:

  1. “…filibuster was not ‘created to bring together members of different parties.’ Political parties did not exist when the Constitution was written, and the Founders famously failed to anticipate their central role in the system.”
  2. “…Founders not only did not create the filibuster, they specifically rejected a supermajority voting requirement.”
  3. “…was not created to ‘protect the rights of the minority from the majority.’ It was originally a rules glitch. In the early-20th century, it was whittled down to a two-thirds supermajority requirement that, by practice, was reserved mainly for use in blocking civil-rights bills.”

The above three points are then beautifully wrapped up in this final paragraph:

In sum, the Founders did not create the filibuster. It emerged accidentally, was changed repeatedly, and was not “designed” for any purpose, and most certainly not to give the minority party a veto. It’s no more true than George Washington chopping down a cherry tree. It’s a story people made up to rationalize a system that nobody invented because nobody ever would create a system like this on purpose.

Only thing that seems missing is… whether there’s a clear correlation between Mitch McConnell of Kentucky abusing the filibuster so often/aggressively and an historic pattern of civil rights abuses. Look at this chart, for example:

MLK even warned us about this.

Back in 1963, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was asked about putting the fate of progressive legislation to the vote of the American people. Dr. King affirmed he would support such an approach, stating, “I think the vast majority of people in the United States would vote favorably for such a bill.” But Dr. King wasn’t done. He additionally admonished most astutely about the filibuster.

“I think the tragedy is that we have a Congress with a Senate that has a minority of misguided Senators who would use the filibuster to keep the majority of people from even voting,” King said. “They won’t let the majority of Senators vote. And certainly they don’t want the majority of people to vote because they know they don’t represent the majority of people.”

Fast forward to 2021 and America is at a filibuster crossroads. We have a choice to make. Do we uphold a racist Senate rule, i.e. the filibuster, or do we uphold American democracy by protecting voting rights?

Or as the historian Kevin Kruse put it on Twitter to “give a sense of the ‘racial history’ in the filibuster”:

Filibuster against civil rights bill, 1874
Filibuster against civil rights bill, 1875
Filibuster against black official pension, 1906
Filibuster against black official confirmation, 1909
Filibuster against anti-lynching bill, 1921
Filibuster against anti-lynching bill, 1922
Filibuster against anti-lynching bill, 1925
Filibuster against monument to black WWI veterans, 1926
Filibuster against anti-lynching bill, 1935
Filibuster against anti-lynching bill, 1938
Filibuster against bill targeting racial discrimination in employment, 1945
Filibuster against Truman’s civil rights proposals, 1948
Filibuster against Truman’s civil rights proposals, 1949
Filibuster against Truman’s civil rights proposals, 1950
Filibuster against measures to fight housing discrimination, 1954
Filibuster against civil rights bill, 1957
Filibuster against civil rights bill, 1960
Filibuster against civil rights bill, 1962
Filibuster against civil rights bill, 1963
Filibuster against civil rights bill, 1964
Filibuster against civil rights bill, 1966
Filibuster against civil rights bill, 1968
Filibuster against bill targeting employment discrimination, 1972
Filibuster against civil rights bill, 1976

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