If the Democratic Party Doesn’t Abolish the Filibuster, I’ll Disaffiliate From Them

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

For the last decade, Democrats have been screaming that their inability to get anything done in Congress stems from the Congressional majority the GOP held. Many representatives of the party would explain that the reason legislation such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or basically any other progressive objective, received so much pushback in their adoption is because of the partisan imbalances within the Senate. 

US Capitol Building Photo by Andy Felicotti from Unsplash After the historic wins by now Senators Jon Ossoff and Rapahel Warnock in Georgia in the beginning of 2021, Democrats have secured enough Senate seats to be tied with the GOP at 50 to 50 Senators each. As we're taught in grade school, the US Vice President then becomes the tiebreaker in any scenario, technically giving Democrats a majority with Kamala Harris as the current VP. However, what our middle school civics classes failed to highlight is the issue of the filibuster within the Senate. 

Bare with me here. The Senate filibuster, first exercised in 1837, is a "parliamentary procedure" that's used to delay or block a vote by continuing debate on the issue at hand. Contrary to popular belief, a simple majority rarely is used when conducting Senate business because of the Senate cloture rule, which calls for a supermajority (60 members) to vote in favor of a motion rather than the standard, believed 50 members. When a motion doesn't have a supermajority (or cannot “reach cloture”), that motion has been filibustered, and debate continues until another vote on the motion is called. 

Basically, if the votes cannot be found, it becomes a vicious, drawn out, bureaucratic cycle. Riveting, I know. 

As exciting as that lesson on intergovernmental workings was, it’s important to remember that this supermajority and the filibuster is the reason that the Democrats cannot use their technical, simple majority to the fullest extent. With the filibuster still intact, Democrats cannot push their reforms to their most progressive potential because, quite frankly, what GOP Senator will jump on board with that? (I’ll answer: none of them). That's why abolishing the filibuster should become the Democrats' first priority going forward. 

Not only is the filibuster an archaic, useless roadblock of democracy, it also simply defeats the purpose of having a Senate majority, and abolishing its existence affects each and every one of us. From student debt to healthcare to women’s reproductive rights, the ability to have progressive reform passed that positively affects these issues depends on the abolishment of the filibuster. 

While the first priority of Democrats has been COVID relief, with the passage of the American Rescue Plan, their focus should now shift towards eliminating the filibuster by any method necessary. 

Following their new Congressional majority, abolishing the filibuster has become much more of a possibility for Democrats. While President Joe Biden has come out in support of "reforming, not abolishing" the filibuster, while many other lawmakers, including Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have called for ending the outdated legislation altogether and beginning a true rule by majority. With their current positioning in both the House and Senate, along with newly found public support, Democrats are as close as they'll ever get to passing legislation to void the filibuster. 

With their current simple majority and public opinion still generally in their favor, passing up this opportunity now would be a slap in the face of millions of Americans who have voted for more liberal and all-encompassing changes. And to be clear, simply holding your political party of choice accountable doesn't mean that you fundamentally reject them. We should always hold our elected officials to the highest standard.