With the US Senate race now in full gear, it’s time to explore which candidate, Republican Senator Scott Brown or Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, is more intent on making the Senate work.
Today’s topic: the filibuster. The Senate is widely considered the government’s broken branch, and one big reason is the filibuster, whose routine use means it takes 60 votes for the Senate to get anything controversial done. As political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein write in “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks,” their new book about political polarization and paralysis: “No longer is it just a tool of last resort, used only in rare cases when a minority with a strong belief on an issue of major importance attempts to bring the process to a screeching halt to focus public attention on its grievances . . . It is fair to say that this pervasive use of the filibuster has never before happened in the history of the Senate.”