What it means to THINK THE VOTE

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Q: Should the Senate Reform the Filibuster?

yes

“The filibuster should either be significantly reformed or completely done away with. It is not mandated by the Constitution, and as founding father Alexander Hamilton aptly wrote in Federalist Papers 22, “To give a minority a negative 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.” From the founding of the republic, people have recognized it is fundamentally undemocratic to require a supermajority and prevent the elected majority (or the will of the people) from achieving their agenda. Our government is already structured to count the voices of the political minority, as the Senate itself was the compromise to ensure that large and small states would have the same representation. The filibuster currently gives that political minority too much power to stall any legislation that they do not agree with. Although proponents for the filibuster say it actually promotes bipartisan cooperation, the opposite is likely more often true. It creates frustration between the parties, and if it is constantly invoked, it creates doubt about the government’s effectiveness. Additionally, the House of Representatives is able to be bipartisan, even though it only needs a simple majority. Finally, it is rooted in racism. The filibuster was consistently used to prevent the passage of many civil rights bills, and many have even called it a relic of the Jim Crow era. If we really want to protect minority rights, it is important to not just consider the political minority, but the minorities in our country that have already been historically oppressed. As leaders in democracy, we must recognize that the filibuster is dated and either needs reform or to be abolished.”

Lillian from New York

no

“The filibuster is an important part of American democracy, first and foremost because it gives the minority opinion a voice. Many aspects of American political structure are founded on the idea that minority parties should still have some power because they represent a very significant portion of Americans. The Senate itself reflects this idea – it gives equal representation to every state, regardless of population. The filibuster falls perfectly in line with this. It gives power to minority party and helps ensure that every bill that passes the Senate has some bipartisan support. If there was an election and one group won with 100 votes to 99 votes, should the 100 group be able to do anything they want? Should the 99 group be entirely ignored? Does a party have the right to be dictatorial simply because they have the majority, or should all legislation that passes require at least some support from people of different political backgrounds? Those who oppose the filibuster might argue that it is anti-democracy, but I would assert the exact opposite. The filibuster ensures that everyone, even those in the minority, are represented. One party should not be allowed to impose whatever legislation they like simply because they have a few more senators. A small difference in numbers doesn’t eliminate the existence of nearly one half of the country, hence the filibuster allows them to still have some power in the Senate. The problems brought up by those who oppose the filibuster are problems not with the filibuster itself but ultimately with the two party system in America. George Washington himself warned strongly against this system in his farewell address, saying, “The alternate domination of one faction over another… is itself a frightful despotism”. Elimination of this system would cure the concerns of those who oppose the filibuster. A country with more political parties would not reduce Americans to colors and numbers, but provide a fuller and more accurate picture of what citizens want out of their government.”

Natalya from Massachusetts

Think the Vote helps you to understand controversial topics and current events. Thinking through your vote is more than showing up on Election Day and picking the person that you like the best—it’s showing an interest in the world and the issues that surround you every day.

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“Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.”

– President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961