Jonah Goldberg: For Democrats, filibuster is only a malevolent tool when Republicans
But maybe I’m wrong about all of that. There are reasonable arguments against the filibuster — or at least the filibuster in its current form. (It’s changed a lot over the last two centuries.)
My point is simpler: The filibuster cannot be an accursed vestige of slavery and Jim Crow when Republicans use it, and a perfectly fine (even noble) tool of fairness and democracy when Democrats use it.
But that’s how the argument works. In his news conference on Thursday, President Joe Biden said he agrees with his former boss Barack Obama the filibuster was “a relic of the Jim Crow era.”
Al Sharpton offers a less subtle, and more representative, rebuke of the filibuster. It’s “racist,” and anyone who supports it — including Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin — is “supporting racism.”
The racism charge mostly hinges on the fact some segregationist senators used it to block civil rights legislation in the 1950s and 1960s. And that’s true.
Of course, the filibuster has been used for lots of other stuff as well. The first time it was used was in 1837, when Whig senators blocked allies of President Andrew Jackson who were trying to rescind a vote of censure against him.
More to the point, the guy who called it a “relic of Jim Crow,” Barack Obama, used it when he was a senator. Odd that an African American would use a relic of Jim Crow. Indeed, when some Republicans threatened to abolish it for judicial appointments, Obama called on the Senate to “rise above an ends-justify-the-means mentality” that would “change the rules in the middle of the game.”