Is the Senate filibuster good for America? As Republicans brandish the tactic as a way to block health reform, liberals such as Ezra Klein
have begun trashing
the arcane practice. But as Ross Douthat points out
, anti-filibuster progressives should be careful what they wish for:
I have a very difficult time believing that Ezra Klein, or any other anti-filibuster liberal, would really rather live in a world where the Bush tax cuts had been larger, permanent, and easily passed on a party line vote.
Douthat notes that a filibuster-free Senate under Republican
leadership could have pushed through legislation very unappetizing to liberals. The redeeming quality of a filibuster, Douthat argues,
is that it promotes moderation and prevents ideological majorities from
wielding too much power. Because we have a Senate filibuster, he says:
[The country] continues to be spared, at least to some
extent -- the tyranny of temporary and highly ideological majorities. If
you dream of a final, permanent victory over your ideological
opponents, then obviously you'll find this state of affairs
objectionable. Here I think Will Wilkinson
puts it well: The more ideological you are, the less satisfactory [the power of minorities] will seem.
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