No, Liberals Aren't Hypocrites if They Like Wendy Davis' Filibuster

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 26 2013 9:56 AM

No, Liberals Aren't Hypocrites if They Like Wendy Davis' Filibuster

Megan McArdle, Ben White, and my colleague Farhad Manjoo are all incredibly smart people. They've also revealed something about politics by getting the same thing wrong, simultaneously. Here, via Twitter, are their reactions to Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis' 13-hour filibuster of an abortion restriction bill, which galvanized liberals last night.


What are they missing? Simple: Liberals and Democrats don't "hate the filibuster." They currently hate the bottlenecks of Senate debate that require 60 votes to move ahead on debates or final votes. These are technically known as "filibusters," but they require no sweat or sacrifice from the minority party. You don't have the majority but you want to stop a bill? Just get 40 colleagues to oppose it. They don't even need to show up—if the vote is, say 59-30, you still don't have cloture.

That's what liberals oppose. In January they got most of their senators behind a reform plan that didn't eliminate the filibuster. It would have required opponents of a bill to hold the floor and speak against a bill if they were trying to stop it. This was what Rand Paul did; this was what Wendy Davis did. Based on what Manjoo et al are saying, it seems like the "filibuster means talking" meme runs deep. And that misunderstanding is very good for Republicans who want to retain the ability to, say, kill a gun control bill without actually having to hold the floor and speak against it.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.