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What the framers of the Constitution actually said about the filibuster, repeated

So, seeing the apoplectic outrage of the right wing about losing the filibuster in certain limited situations (an overdue rap on the knuckles considering how the filibuster has been abused in recent years), I thought I’d repeat something from a post I made two years ago during the first bullshit debt limit crisis. That post makes a bunch of points, but today I’ll just focus on one:

The idea that the filibuster was somehow envisioned by the framers of the Constitution? That’s completely wrong, according to the Federalist Papers, which is the best source we have on what the framers were thinking.

Here’s the key passage:

To give the minority a negative [i.e., a veto] upon the majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is requisite to a decision) is in its tendency to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser number. . . .This is one of those refinements which in practice has an effect, the reverse of what is expected from it in theory.

The necessity of unanimity in public bodies, or of something approaching towards it, has been founded upon a supposition that it would contribute to security. But its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations of a respectable majority.

In those emergencies of a nation, in which the goodness or badness, the weakness or strength of its government, is of the greatest importance, there is commonly a necessity for action. The public business must in some way or other go forward. If a pertinacious minority can controul the opinion of a majority respecting the best mode of conducting it; the majority in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will over-rule that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings. Hence tedious delays—continual negotiations and intrigue—contemptible compromises of the public good.

And yet in such a system, it is even happy when such compromises can take place: For upon some occasions, things will not admit of accommodation: and then the measures of government must be injuriously suspended or fatally defeated. It is often, by the impracticability of obtaining the concurrence of the necessary number of votes, kept in a state of inaction. Its situation must always savour of weakness—sometimes border upon anarchy.

Take the time to read that. “Embarrass the administration.” “Destroy the energy of government.” “Contemptible compromises of the public good.” “The measures of government . . . injuriously suspended.” “[Government] kept in a state of inaction.” The framers thought that the Constitution would avoid these problems, *because* they set things up so that the majority would actually have its will done. They not only didn’t institute the filibuster, they thought they had safeguarded against such things.
That’s not how things have played out.
It’s not that I think that the framers’ intent is an infallible guide to modern problems (see: three-fifths compromise). But if you disagree with them, say so. Don’t claim that they agreed with you when they clearly stated the opposite.
EDIT: I should have mentioned: The fact that the framers rejected the need for a supermajority (except in very specific cases) means that they put their safeguards against ill-considered government action elsewhere, like the fact that both houses plus the president have to agree on a law. Adding more “safeguards” on top of these is a recipe for all the problems above.

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