Filibuster power lost as result of GOP abusing it

Finally, adults have taken control of the U.S. Senate. Parents warn offspring they have conditional rights bestowed to teach them responsibility. The message: Abuse it and lose it.

The members of the Gray Old Petulants abused the Senate system under the first black president to the extent they were filibustering practically every proposal Democrats offered. Most of the bills were federal judgeships, probably touted by the GOP’s cable network and other apocalyptic-shouting channels as the devil incarnate.

Typically, none of this cadre of stupids even knows, much less cares, the fact the power of the filibuster was not designed by the Founding Fathers, but was created by Congress itself, an anachronism of the once-grand idea of giving some power to the minority to block a tyrannical move by the majority.

The House originally allowed filibusters but quickly abolished them. But filibusters remained in the Senate, so steeped in tradition it sometimes acts irrationally. Even so, it decided to shut off filibusters, invoke cloture, by a vote of two-thirds of the senators in order to win approval of the treaty ending World War I.

Cloture worked well until the segregationists abused the filibuster to delay civil rights legislation in the 1960s. In the post-Watergate year of 1975, the Senate voted to lower the standard to three-fifths, or 60 votes. Now it has lowered the standard to a simple majority only for administrative appointees and federal judges to a simple majority.

You abused it, you lost it.

Howard Fields