Republicans must not weaken filibuster

Senate Republicans need to get over it. They control the House, the Senate and the White House, and now they want to take what little power the underdog had. They want to eliminate the filibuster.

An amazingly effective bargaining tool, the filibuster gives a small minority some collateral. Many times, the mere mention of its use works as well as a majority vote. Filibusters distinguish Senate from the inexperienced House. It embodies the importance of debate.

Historically, a filibuster brings images of lone wolves making a last-ditch effort to stand up for an ideal. Filibusters have involved reading line by line out of telephone books, stalling all possibility of debate. As long as the individual or group of people in the minority can hold the floor, no legislation progresses.

Republicans do not want to completely eliminate filibusters. They simply want to bend the rules in their favor. The Senate currently needs 60 votes to end a filibuster — a number of votes Republicans don’t have. Republicans have proposed lowering the requirement to 50 votes, a majority they do have.

Both Republicans and Democrats need to understand and support the filibuster in its current form. It’s understood that one day Democrats will again be in control of the Senate, and it will be the Republicans crying for its sanction. It isn’t good etiquette to change the rules of an institution, fixing the system in one’s favor.

Republicans are angry over Democrats’ refusal to approve seven judicial nominees. Keep in mind, this is 10 out of 52 who have already been approved. So in an effort to get what they want at any cost, Republicans are willing to change the rule book. Democrats and others who support the filibuster have called the possible rule change the nuclear option — a fitting description. Democrats have threatened to completely shut down Senate progress if talk of changing the filibuster ensues.

According to a story in The Christian Science Monitor, filibusters promote compromise. Mentioning a filibuster brings both parties back to the table in hopes of avoiding a sour situation. But both parties have taken their arguments and have wrapped them in Constitutional cloth.

The filibuster fight isn’t only the Republicans’ problem. Democrats must make sure they use the tool wisely. Most of the time, Democrat qualms should be ironed out in civil debate, and the legislation should be voted upon. Because of its incredible effectiveness in moderation, the filibuster should be a last resort.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater.