Is the Senate filibuster good for America? As Republicans brandish the tactic as a way to block health reform, liberals such as Ezra Klein have begun trashing the arcane practice. But as Ross Douthat points out, anti-filibuster progressives should be careful what they wish for:
I have a very difficult time believing that Ezra Klein, or any other anti-filibuster liberal, would really rather live in a world where the Bush tax cuts had been larger, permanent, and easily passed on a party line vote.Douthat notes that a filibuster-free Senate under Republican leadership could have pushed through legislation very unappetizing to liberals. The redeeming quality of a filibuster, Douthat argues, is that it promotes moderation and prevents ideological majorities from wielding too much power. Because we have a Senate filibuster, he says:
[The country] continues to be spared, at least to some extent -- the tyranny of temporary and highly ideological majorities. If you dream of a final, permanent victory over your ideological opponents, then obviously you'll find this state of affairs objectionable. Here I think Will Wilkinson puts it well: The more ideological you are, the less satisfactory [the power of minorities] will seem.