Thursday, May 19, 2005

Burkeian Rationale for Eliminating the Filibuster
At first glance, it would seem that significant filibuster reform would be on the outs with a true Burkian conservative. Afterall, the filibuster has been around long enough to become a substantial aspect of an important American institution...and conservatism is all about conserving institutions according to Burke. However, too many confuse Burke's cautions against radical change with a general position against change at all. Burke accepted and often supported incremental changes in social institutions. Indeed, Burke sometimes endorsed significant change (the American Revolution) where the end was, indeed, protecting essential societal institutions (in that case, the autonomous rulership of the Americas that had developed over centuries and to which George, III's radical policies represented a significant threat). "She [England] is never to intrude into the place of the others, whilst they are equal to the common ends of their institution." Likewise I think a credible argument can be made that the filibuster must be reformed, significantly, in a Burkian sense: that it intrudes on the province of the proper workings of the legislative institution. As long as it was used in a benign fashion, much like the Empire's delicate and deft touch on the Americas for much of its existance, it served a good. But when it began to threaten the fabric of the institution itself (i.e. majoritarian democracy), it must be fought...just as King George had to be fought by the colonists. That the true radical position is not in opposition (the American Revolution, elimination of the judicial filibuster), but rather in the commission (George's Stamp Act, the employment of the filibuster by Democrats on judicial nominees). And this puts aside the entire question of Constitutionalism. D.GOOCH


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