The range and depth of left-leaning policies that 2020 Democrats are proposing is very encouraging, but one major roadblock hangs over all their bright ideas: the Senate. The unrepresentative, antiquated, stupid-ass Senate. More specifically, the stupid-ass filibuster, and the fact that the Democrats have essentially no hope of gaining a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate in 2020, if they can achieve a majority at all.
That means that any Democratic candidate who is serious about any of the policies they support—or really getting anything other than a huge defense budget and renaming a post office through Congress at all—must be willing to getting rid of the filibuster. And today, Elizabeth Warren will become the first senator running for president to officially go there.
According to Politico, Warren will endorse eliminating the filibuster at a speech today:
“I’m not running for President just to talk about making real, structural change. I’m serious about getting it done. And part of getting it done means waking up to the reality of the United States Senate,” Warren will say. “So let me be as clear as I can. When Democrats next have power, we should be bold and clear: we’re done with two sets of rules — one for the Republicans and one for the Democrats.
She added: “That means when Democrats have the White House again, if Mitch McConnell tries to do what he did to President Obama, and puts small-minded partisanship ahead of solving the massive problems facing this country, then we should get rid of the filibuster.”
Previously, Warren had only said that killing the filibuster was “on the table,” so today will mark a big shift—though she’s also supported other big structural changes like getting rid of the Electoral College.
A popular argument against the filibuster is that it has prevented Republicans from doing awful things, too, and that they will then do those awful things when they get back in power. This just emphasizes exactly how massive the scale of the change we need is. We cannot have a government premised on minority rule and inaction out of fear of a party that has completely warped democratic mechanisms in their favor. A majority of people favor major Democratic policies, but our system is set up in a way that advantages their opponents.
Our democracy is barely functioning, held together with electrical tape and zip ties. That’s an argument for fixing the system, not for keeping it the same. Without eliminating the filibuster, when will anything ever change? When will we get lower drug prices, or tackle climate change, or raise the minimum wage? What are we waiting for?
If other candidates are as serious as Warren says she is about achieving change, there is no other way.