By Sean Parnell
The United States is somewhat unique among the world’s democracies in that throughout our history we have valued protecting the rights of the minority party, even at the expense of stopping the majority from enacting its agenda.
This has provided added stability to our government, as it prevents the parties from making drastic changes to our laws each time the balance of power changes. Instead of wild swings from left to right and back again, the U.S. remains steady.
That stability is being threatened by forces within the Democrat Party wishing to eliminate the filibuster to push through a radical agenda on a party-line basis to reshape this country as quickly as possible.
I want to be perfectly clear — under no circumstances would I ever vote to eliminate the legislative filibuster.
The idea behind the filibuster is simple — instead of passing a law by a simple majority, the Senate requires 60 votes to advance most legislation, thus ensuring that members of the minority party have some say in the legislative process.
In a situation where one party controls the presidency and both houses of Congress, the filibuster is the only backstop we have to ensure some measure of bipartisanship in Washington. This was true during President Trump’s first two years in office when Republicans also controlled the House and Senate, and it is true today with Joe Biden in The White House and Democrats holding majorities in both houses.
Protecting the filibuster was once viewed as a mainstream opinion in the Democrat party. As recently as 2005, then-Senator Barack Obama defended the filibuster by arguing “the American people do not expect for one party, whether it be Republican or Democrat to change the rules in the middle of the game while the other party is told to sit down and shut up.”
In 2017, a bipartisan group of 61 Senators signed a letter asking Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to preserve the filibuster. Twenty-six of the Democrats who signed the letter still serve in the U.S. Senate today but have suddenly changed their tune since taking back the majority. And in 2005, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the filibuster one of “the checks and balances which have been at the core of this republic.
Democrats used the filibuster 327 times in 2020 to block everything from COVID-19 funding to legislation to address police brutality.
Despite the Democrats’ reflexive opposition to anything endorsed by President Trump, Republicans made no moves to end or even weaken the legislative filibuster. This was the right move. Any short-term gain in passing Republican priorities would have been drastically outweighed by the destruction of any chance of bipartisanship in the future.
Despite enthusiastically using the filibuster at every opportunity just months ago, the far left is now demanding that Senate Democrats eliminate the filibuster in order to ensure that their party can pass all of its most extreme policies, from forcing taxpayers to finance political campaigns to President Biden’s massive $6 trillion spending plan, to the oil-and-gas-killing Green New Deal. The only thing that has changed in those few short months is the balance of power in Washington.
This fight is being led by the most extreme members of the Democrat Party, with self-avowed democratic socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders leading the charge. But even supposed “moderates” like Bob Casey Jr. have endorsed the idea, terrified of crossing the rabid left-wing base and risking a primary challenge.
Despite Pennsylvania’s identity as a swing state, nearly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, both John Fetterman and Conor Lamb have jumped on board with liberal extremists’ demand to end the filibuster. John Fetterman, the front runner for the nomination, described getting rid of the filibuster a litmus test for running for office as a Democrat. Talk about putting party before country.
During my time as an infantry captain, I learned that a true leader listens to and represents everybody. That is what I will do if the people of Pennsylvania honor me by electing me to the United States Senate.
Unlike Fetterman and Lamb, I will fight to ensure voices from both parties are heard and to keep the filibuster in place no matter who is president or which party holds the majority. And in cases where there is disagreement, I will lead the efforts to work across the aisle and find bipartisan consensus. Just as I’ve always done throughout my service to this great nation, I’ll always put our country first.
In the end, representing Pennsylvania cannot be about ramming through ideologically driven laws or one-upping the opposing party. It is about doing what’s best for the people of our commonwealth.
All of them.
Sean Parnell is a candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. He is a New York Times bestselling author and a combat veteran who was awarded was awarded two Bronze Stars, one for Valor and the Purple Heart. He lives in Butler County.