A More Efficient U.S. Senate Would be Dangerous to What’s Left of the Republic
Dr. Charles Dunn is the author and editor of 21 books on American politics. He is also chairman emeritus of the U.S. J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, and a founder of, and contributing scholar to, The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. Most recently, he served as dean of Regent’s University School of Government before retiring just last year. Below, he has a very thoughtful piece in Forbes Magazine about the U.S. Senate and the filibuster rule:
What would the Senate be like without the filibuster? It would be a more efficient body, but efficiency has never been a hallmark of democracy.
Reflecting on Senate Rule 22, the so-called cloture rule that allows for filibusters, former Senate parliamentarian Floyd M. Riddick dramatically stated its importance when he said, “Coming from the House to the Senate, it is like going from prison to freedom. . . . I’m talking about the freedom of time to develop what you are trying to get over. . . . I just can’t imagine debates in the Roman Senate ever
being developed under the House procedures.”
What would America be like without the filibuster? That’s the vital question. William F. Hildenbrand, former secretary of the U.S. Senate, said the filibuster is “the one way a bad bill can be stopped. It is a way of calling public attention to a bill. . . . Without it, the . . . [minority] here would be steamrolled. If you ever take away the filibuster, I think the people would be
Conservatives and liberals have benefited from the filibuster. Conservative Strom Thurmond of South Carolina talked for 24 hours and 18 minutes
against the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Liberal Wayne Morse of Oregon talked for 22 hours and 26 minutes against the Tidelands oil bill of 1953. In the short
run they appeared to thwart majority rule. But in the end the Senate passed and the public accepted changes on these controversial social and economic issues.
- U.S. Senate Democrats Stop Filibusters on Nominations (freebeacon.com)
- Obama’s Senate super-majority: Fiction at its finest (thecriticalaye.com)
- The Senate would be more efficient without the filibuster, and that’s the problem (visionandvalues.org)
- Senate vote today on extension of unemployment benefits (joeforamerica.com)
- Liz Cheney Ends Bid For U.S. Senate Seat (kmvt.com)
- U.S. Senator Sends Obama Hilarious List of ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ (ijreview.com)