Yesterday we may have witnessed the single best argument against the filibuster. An effort to pass a bipartisan amendment on expanded background checks failed because it only got 54 yes votes to 46 no. Only with the insane rules that govern the Senate is such a failure possible.
This is maybe the least controversial proposal to have ever failed in the Senate. It is backed by 91 percent of Americans. In fact many people are shocked and outraged to find out this isn’t part of existing law.
Yet the current Senate rules allow a minority of senators taking an extreme position supported by large corporate donors to prevail over the overwhelming will of the electorate. The filibuster allowed the gun maker lobby to win and the American people to lose.
Sadly this dynamic is not uncommon. We have seen it repeatedly with issues like drug re-importation, but rarely is it so public, widely covered and one-sided. It is almost never so clear how much power the filibuster has to distort our democratic process.
The only thing more disgusting than the Republican use of the senate rules to stop this modest reform, is that Democrats allow them to. At any moment a simply majority of Democratic senators can eliminate the filibuster all together. If this incident doesn’t prove to the Democratic majority how horrible the filibuster is for our government than nothing will.