Biden Needs to Destroy the Senate Filibuster

Joe Biden is coming around. Or at least that’s what he wants you to think.

A New York Magazine piece earlier this week declared the former VP is “planning an FDR-sized presidency.” It details how he’s evolved on various policy issues and is willing to adopt more progressive policies and ideals to bring those voters in. There’s good reason for progressive skepticism, given Biden’s record and how little he had to acquiesce to actually win the nomination.

But even if all of Biden’s policy evolvements are true, it won’t mean anything if the Senate filibuster is still in place.

The Senate filibuster is a rule requiring the votes of at least 60 senators to pass any given legislation. That also means just 41 senators are required to block a bill. It’s essentially how Republicans have bent Congress to their will for the better part of the last decade. It’s also completely undemocratic and almost every capital-D Democrat running for president agreed—everyone except Biden, that is.

Biden is an old school politician. He believes in reaching across the aisle and working toward solutions with your political opposition. But he hasn’t worked in the Senate since 2008 and appears to have no connection to, grasp of, or interest in current hyper-partisan politics. That seems inexplicable given how harshly Republicans and conservative media treated the president he served under.

Biden’s also tied to the institutions and political norms of his past. But if he wants to pass any legislation as president, he needs to destroy the filibuster or lower its 60-vote threshold. Any sort of interest he shows (or feigns) in progressive policy already rings hollow. And it will mean even less if he’s unwilling to change the structure that will prevent any of it from becoming reality.