As we say goodbye to filibuster reform, let us take a moment to get really clear on where the blames lays for turning the filibuster into a weapon of mass destruction. More and more when I talk to conservatives, the best they can say about how badly their party acts is the centrists’ lament: both sides do it! But that is quantitatively wrong.
About a year and a half ago, one of Kevin Drum’s readers created the following graph. It shows how the use of the filibuster has grown. The red data points indicate when the Republicans were in the minority and the blue points indicate when the Democrats were. The most obvious thing to notice is that all the increases in the use of the filibuster are due to the Republicans. A more subtle point is that the Democrats have actually reduced the use of the filibuster.
This gets to the core of the problem with the “both sides do it” meme. When the Democrats brought down the use of the filibuster in the 90s and 00s, they were given no credit for it. In addition, it didn’t change the behavior of the Republicans that followed them. Every time the the Republicans have been in the minority, they have pushed the use of the filibuster all the more.
This behavior is shameful and the Republicans should be publicly shamed. But instead, all their bad behavior is glossed over with, “Why can’t the two parties just get along?!” As this graph shows, the Democratic Party tries to get along. And the reaction of the mainstream media is still, “Why can’t the two parties just get along?!” The answer is staring right at them from the teleprompter.