Democrat Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) thinks that the filibuster is a threat to democracy that must be destroyed.
However, in 2005, Schumer thought that ending the filibuster would be the end of democracy.
Schumer’s Democrats now control the Senate and they mean to keep it.
The filibuster is one of the chief obstacles they face in forcing through their dangerous agenda and securing a permanent hold on the government.
Schumer flops on filibuster
In 2005 Schumer declared that the Republicans were trying to turn the United States into a “banana republic” by doing exactly what he is now doing in the Senate.
The Democrats plan to hold a vote on ending the filibuster on January 17. Before that happens they hope to win over the holdouts in their party, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
These two have said that they will not vote to end the filibuster, making it unlikely that this effort by Schumer will succeed if he is unable to push them away from their stance.
Democrats swapping sides on the filibuster issue isn’t surprising; both parties have at times vowed to eliminate the rule while they hold a majority in the senate.
The filibuster as it exists in 2021 is essentially just a requirement that the majority party has 60 votes before it is able to pass legislation.
It has evolved from a dramatic and rare physical act to a routine threat which shuts down anything pushed by the majority party without first securing the requisite supermajority.
Threat to democracy?
In 2005, Democrat Chuck Schumer said eliminating the filibuster would “be a doomsday for Democracy.” pic.twitter.com/SInO8p9bSd
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) January 3, 2022
Chuck Schumer now says that the filibuster is a threat to democracy.
His past statements said otherwise and, at one point, even Hollywood lauded the filibuster.
The 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington famously includes the filibuster in a climactic scene which portrays it as the essence of democracy.
The idea of speaking endlessly to derail a vote goes back to the Romans but, unlike other aspects of the Roman constitution, the Founding Fathers did not intentionally bring it to the United States.
The filibuster emerged over time as a tactic for the minority party through senate rules, leading to feats of endurance in which senators have held the floor for hours.
The record is held by Senator Strom Thurmond, who performed a marathon 24 hour filibuster to oppose the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
The days of dramatic performances like this are largely gone but the threat remains a powerful tool for the minority party.
For now, at least, the majority party under Schumer hopes to change that.