An Open Letter on the Filibuster

To any Senators on the fence who’ll listen

Dear Senator,

I’m writing, respectfully, to urge you to abolish the filibuster.

I’m a mostly-moderate Democrat living in South Portland, Maine. I value the rule of law, compromise, and policy that takes competing interests into account. Most of all, I value democracy (with a small ‘d’) guarded by equal rights & civil liberties.

I desperately hope you’ll give me a few paragraphs of your time, because I’m afraid the filibuster now stands in the way of all those values — potentially, this time, for good — as the forces of anti-democracy are playing for keeps.

It’s clear that the bulk of the Republican Party has become solidly anti-democratic. The evidence is plentiful. A majority of House Republicans recently voted to contest the results of a free and fair election; state parties have demonstrated even worse behavior (see, for example: Arizona); and of course, the de-facto leader of the Republican Party has essentially endorsed conspiratorial, treasonous violence.

Why should this matter to your decision on the filibuster? Because the filibuster now stands in the way of the only legislation that might give us a fighting chance against those anti-democratic forces. If those anti-democratic forces seize control of Congress in 2022, it’s reasonable to believe this could end up being our last shot.

The legislation in question is the “For the People Act”. It shouldn’t be controversial, as all it does is protect the right of citizens to vote. Critically, it guards against the kind of partisan ‘gerrymandering’ that entrenches minority rule. The only reason it’s controversial, and won’t garner Republican votes, is because the Republican Party so clearly prefers power over democracy.

The ‘For the People Act’ might serve as a guardrail against the anti-democratic forces that are openly plotting to employ gerrymandering & voter suppression to ‘win’ in 2022. The last President claims that the last election was “stolen”, which is of course a narcissistic fantasy. But absent changes to our redistricting & voter suppression laws, elections can already be ‘stolen’ quite legally — in the sense that the majority of voters are prevented from winning. In fact, that’s the Anti-Democracy party’s avowed strategy.

This brings me back to the filibuster. Democrats: you have the power now to protect the integrity of the election in 2022. If you ditch the filibuster, and pass the For the People Act, our society stands a stronger chance against the forces of authoritarianism. If you choose the filibuster over For the People, the Anti-Democracy party will do its best to make sure you don’t get another chance.

To the Democrats closer to the middle of the political spectrum: I’m with you — I’m a relative moderate (with some views that might even be described as “conservative”). Strategically, I believe abolishing the filibuster is the right move for moderates. It would strengthen our position by preventing an extremist minority from blocking the business of the majority, which tends to hew closer to the political center. Tactically, getting rid of the filibuster ought to put you in a position of great power to shape legislation emerging from any narrow Democratic majority in the years to come. (I’m looking at you Senators Manchin, Sinema, and my own Senator Angus King.)

Beyond tactics: morally & philosophically the filibuster’s time has passed. Perhaps there was a time when it encouraged Senatorial deliberation, but that time is clearly behind us. It’s now antithetical to the democratic values which have made our nation such a tremendous success story for nearly two hundred & fifty years. It makes those of us in the majority feel disenfranchised…because we are. And most critically, it prevents you from doing your job: legislating for the good of the country.

I beg you: please consider overcoming the filibuster, passing the For the People Act, and giving democracy a fighting chance.

Thank you for your time,

Andy Lubershane, South Portland, ME

For more, see:

Democrats, Here’s How to Lose in 2022 and Deserve It

What is the Senate Filibuster, and What Would It Take To Eliminate It