Filibuster and the Right of the MinorityThe New York Times ran an opinion piece calling for the end of the filibuster in the Senate. Certainly filibusters can be vexing when you are part of the majority that wishes to pass a bill. But the United States was not established to be an absolute democracy in which plebiscites determine all policy. In the tenth Federalist Paper, James Madison argued for the need to guard against factions of like-minded people whose interests might run contrary to the rights of others. The consideration was central to the formulation of our government and is no less important today than in the 18th century.
In fact, given the pressures to conform, to adopt either this or that political philosophy, I think today we see the demon of the majority. One group feels that it should be able to compel another to act the way it finds fitting. Given the pressure that political representatives feel to conform to public whim to more certainly enable their reelection, the filibuster is one of the few mechanisms left that can give a concerned minority the ability to say, "Stop. You may not run roughshod over us simply because it seems possible." Certainly restore the process to one that requires active participation, a single person or group to undertake the effort to actually waylay debate. But to call for the end of the filibuster is to call for the reign of popularity. That may seem desirous today, but supremacy of popular vote is a fickle thing, and tomorrow you might long for the ability to stop the wheels of progress.