Opinion | The Debate Over Ending the Filibuster

To the Editor:

Re “Save Democracy. Kill the Filibuster” (editorial, March 12):

A key point in your persuasive editorial calling for the reform or elimination of the Senate filibuster bears emphasis. The filibuster exacerbates the egregiously anti-democratic nature of the Senate.

When the founders’ Great Compromise created the Senate, the population disparity of the states was a fraction of what exists today. Now, some 20 or more states with 40 senators have a population in total of less than California, which is represented by only two. Citizens in populous states simply have a smaller “voice” in the Senate that can’t be justified and is getting more pronounced as populations shift to a few large states. The filibuster gives undue leverage to the minority without any benefit to bipartisanship or thoughtful debate.

While changing the nature of the Senate may be politically impossible, changing the filibuster is not. Doing so would be an important step toward creating a more representative and functioning Congress.

David Crane
Washington

To the Editor:

Re “The Senate’s F-Bomb” (column, March 11):

I have to agree with Gail Collins that the filibuster has been used excessively by Republicans to doom many critical progressive legislative initiatives. For a staunch liberal like me, seeing the filibuster being continually exploited has been frustrating, to say the least.

However, the argument that the filibuster is inherently conservative or negative is shortsighted at best. The filibuster is an instrument of stability: It ensures that the legislation being passed truly has national support. Sure, the filibuster makes it hard to pass something good, but it makes it even harder to pass something bad.

Right now, American democracy is more insecure than ever. Populism is rising and the Capitol riots were only two months ago. In this time of chaos, our institutions could use the stability provided by the filibuster.

Matthew Xu
Princeton Junction, N.J.

To the Editor:

One can understand the reluctance of some Senate Democrats to eliminate the filibuster. The built-in structural advantages and successful gerrymandering tactics have combined to make it very difficult to maintain a Democratic majority in the Senate. So Democrats may believe that they are preserving their own “emergency brake” for future congressional sessions.

But in reality, the only legislative ambitions the Senate Republicans seem to have is passing tax cuts for the very few and stacking the courts with judges who will roll back social gains. As these activities are already exempt from the filibuster, what Republican agenda do the Democrats expect they will need to block?

There is only one party that benefits from being able to block a legislative agenda because there is only one party, the Democratic Party, that actually has one. Come on, Democrats, just do it! What have you got to lose?

Steve Goldman
New York

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