Vineyarders rally to end the filibuster

Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard leads effort at Five Corners to raise awareness.


An enthusiastic group of people waved signs at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven Saturday morning in protest of the filibuster. Someone yelled, “Honk for democracy!” as passing drivers honked their horns and waved to rally participants. 

According to the event’s flyer, Saturday’s rally was held because “our democracy is in peril” and there are “over 350 voter suppression bills in 48 states.” The rally was led by Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard, which was created four years ago in response to then–President Donald Trump’s “oppressive” policies.

A filibuster is a legislative tactic allowed in the U.S. Senate to prolong debate and block legislation.

The rally had two purposes: protesting the filibuster and spreading awareness of the For the People Act, an election reform bill, which was recently blocked by Republicans in a filibuster, according to AP News. The rally was one of 200 filibuster protests happening around the country, according to Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard member Carla Cooper. 

Flyers with QR codes that can be used to contact a person’s local senator were also passed around. 

Cooper said Republican state legislators are using voter suppression tactics to disenfranchise people. The filibuster has been a “weapon” to pass “blatant” and “racist” policies in Republican-led states, according to Cooper. “They’re so mad they lost the election they’re using this big lie as an excuse to disenfranchise people, and it’s mostly people of color who will vote Democratic,” said Cooper. “In a country where voting is how you pick your leaders, it’s very undemocratic.” She listed making some addresses illegitimate for voting and signature requirements as a couple of examples of restrictive voting policies.

Cooper said the Democrats have a slight margin over the Republicans, so this is the opportunity to get the For the People Act passed. The bill was introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) in 2019, but it was blocked in the at-the-time Republican majority Senate and Senate majority leader Mich McConnell (R-KY). This was during the time when McConnell was acting as a “grim reaper” against Democratic bills. The For the People Act is currently pending a decision. According to Cooper, if the bill does not pass by September, the Republicans may be able to use gerrymandering to redistrict voters and possibly take the House in 2022. Census data is used to determine the number of representatives each state can elect, which makes supporters of the For the People Act push for faster change. 

According to the Brookings Institute, there are three main ways the filibuster can be eliminated or reformed: a vote of 60 senators with support from two-thirds of the Senate, creation of a new Senate precedent, or a senator claiming a Senate rule has been violated, which can lead to the formation of a new precedent, depending on the decisions of the Senate presiding officer and other senators. 

Cooper said if the elimination of the filibuster cannot be done, at least reforms such as requirements of talking filibusters, which would require a filibustering senator to do it in person, or lowering the voting threshold to 55 votes. At the very least, Cooper wants the filibuster to not be applied for policies of critical issues for the country, such as national security. 

The change of the filibuster can be a “simple” matter, said Cooper in a speech. “This requires every Democratic senator to vote to change the rule.” Two Democrats in the Senate are against ending the filibuster, according to the Washington Post: Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin III (D-WV). 

Caroline Miller, a 10-year resident of Martha’s Vineyard and recent mayoral candidate in Bolivar, Tenn., said there is a lot of gerrymandering in red states, and a large grassroots effort will be required to bring change. She provided perspectives about red states for the rally participants. In particular, Miller said, Democratic voters in rural Midwest and Southern states need to be encouraged toward political activity and to run for offices. “West Tennessee raised me, but Martha’s Vineyard made me,” said Miller.

The filibuster was created as a “simple housekeeping matter” in 1806 at the advice of then Vice President Aaron Burr, according to the Brookings Institute. Cooper said now the filibuster is “used as a weapon instead of a tool for compromise and bipartisanship. It’s just used as a cudgel, and as a weapon to kill legislation most of the country is in favor of,” listing the rise to a $15 federal minimum wage, gun control, and the Green New Deal as examples. 

Miller also pointed out the way the filibuster was used to hinder the civil rights movement and “for the most horrific reasons ever, to perpetuate white supremacy” and that the country should have no problem ridding itself of the “unconstitutional” procedure. 

Miller said there is a lot of work that needs to be done to enact change. “We almost have to be like the GOP because when they are in charge — they let everyone know they are in charge. They are unapologetic about pushing their policies and their plans, and that’s what we need to do. If the situation were reversed, we know 100 percent they would get rid of the filibuster,” she said. “We can learn a thing or two about having that sort of die-hard tenacity toward getting the work of the people done, because they know that that’s what they were put there to do.I hate to say it, but we [Democrats] can be too nice, and politics … especially when it’s such dire extremes, and sometimes it’s life and death in some situations, we have to take the gloves off, so to speak. Politics is a game, and we have to play to win.”

Miller named the barring of then President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination, Merrick Garland, by the Republicans as a show of “how they change the rules.” 

The rally acted as a way to raise awareness about the filibuster and the way it is used. For those who want to learn more about the Senate and the filibuster, Cooper recommends “Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy,” by Adam Jentleson. 


  1. Congress is functioning perfectly. You want to end the fillibuster it will come back to bite you later when you dont have a majority. The fillibuster is there for a purpose. You are frustrated you cant get your way. Do you really want a simple majority in order to pass legislation? Harry Reid started all this a few years ago and because of it and it helped him pass Obamacare but it effectively paved the way for Trump to appoint three Supremes none of whom the Dems wanted.

    • Obamacare was passed with a majority in the House and 60 Votes in the Senate. Nice try though. You must be the only person in America, R or D, to think that Congress is functioning perfectly. A simple majority is what the framers of the Constitution intended, they specifically did NOT intend for the minority party to have veto power over the majority. The filibuster was an accidental rule change for the sole purpose of blocking civil rights legislation. Harry Reid ended the filibuster for judicial appointments because the Republican minority in the Senate decided to block every Obama nominee, as McConnell’s stated goal was to block everything Obama did – and using the filibuster to simply obstruct for the sake of obstructing is why the filibuster must go. McConnell would have nuked the filibuster for anything Trump wanted passed. But, true to form, when Republicans held the majority in both houses, they did nothing except cut the corporate tax rate for their wealthy donor class. Oh yeah, they had about a dozen “Infrastructure Weeks” resulting in absolutely zero infrastructure bills. Oh, and I think Trump will be releasing his “Healthcare Plan” in two weeks. I suggest you read Jentleson’s book.

    • Andrew– nice to see that you can recognize that a congress with both the house and senate under democratic control — with a democratic president are functioning “perfectly”–And I thought you would never give credit to the dems for anything.
      I want Biden to change the number of “Supremes” from 9 to 17 and then pass permanent legislation forbidding any more ” packing the court”.
      After all, it was only in the 60’s that there were only 3 “Supremes”. Dianna ross was so good–

      • Keller, the function is as it is supposed to be. The outcomes often dont satisfy either side. There is a difference between results and process. I have no problem with process but you seem to insist on outcomes as do the protestors at 5 corners

  2. Ms Cooper it is the job of the party not in power to block legislation they dont like. The Dems blocked all three Trump supremes and in two cases, viciously. Your argument comes straight from the Brookings Institute which is a liberal and elite think tank. I said ”it helped” Reid pass Obamacare, I did not say it caused it to happen.

    • Actually, Andrew, they objected to the nomination of 3 supremes, as you call them. They didn’t actually block them. Moscow Mitch did the blocking..
      In my opinion, Kavanaugh was the only one that was legitimately appointed.
      Garland should have gotten a hearing, but he didn’t — Obstructionist politics at it’s best.
      That let trump appoint Gorsuch , who never should have had the chance.
      Kavanaugh was appropriately appointed and vetted. That’s what should happen in a free and open society.
      Barrett was pushed through in a disgraceful political three ring circus days before the election, after Moscow Mitch proclaimed that Scotus nominees should not be considered in an election year. The state department did not do a thorough investigation, and a proper hearing was not held.
      These are not the actions or the procedures of a society such as the United States. These are the actions and procedures of tin horn dicktaters and their cronies in third world countries.

    • Senators Oath of Office:
      “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.” Looking for the part where it says it’s my “JOB” to block legislation I don’t like. It’s their job to protect and defend the Constitution and to serve their constituents by enacting laws to protect their right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Dems did not block any of the Trump Supreme Court nominees because they were in the minority and Mitch McConnell ended the filibuster, which meant only required 51 votes were required. Three democrats voted to seat Gorsuch, by the way. McConnell blocked Merrick Garland from ever even getting a hearing, then tried to kill Obamacare with 51 votes, even though it took 60 to pass it. You can whine all you want about the mean ole Democrats, but it was Mitch McConnell that weaponized the modern filibuster because he couldn’t stand the fact that America elected a Black president and he vowed to do everything in his power to punish liberals for that egregious offense by erasing Obama’s legacy. The modern Senate is a mockery of the institution the founders envisioned and enshrined in the Constitution. 395 bills were passed by the House that never saw the light of day in the Senate because Mitch McConnell refused to even bring them to a vote. Yeah, that’s operating perfectly.

      • Ms Cooper you are making an ”argument from silence”. No the Constitution does not say its their job to block however the reason we have a two party system is implicitly to negotiate and use the rules for each respective party to prevail. You dont like the outcomes but the process if legitimate. I didnt like Trump getting impeached but Pelosi used the rules. All of your post above is reflective of Congress using its own rules. Obamas blackness has nothing to do with it. It was his policies. If it were Tim Scott or Thomas Sowell or Clarence Thomas the Republicans would not block them due to blackness. The race card is getting tired and worn out. You are not getting your way and I dont like it when I dont get mine but I use the rules. You seem to be implying that if Pelosi were President we would block her due to her whiteness.

  3. Rather than eliminate the filibuster, we should require the House to pass legislation with a two thirds majority as well. Need to put an end to partisan, wasteful nonsense, like the Pelosi impeachments.

    • Except for that pesky little thing called the Constitution would beg to differ. And Trump was impeached because he committed crimes against the country and abused the power of his office. The House gets its Impeachment power directly from the Constitution and they used it appropriately. And if a Democratic president ever incited a violent mob to attack Congress or tried to extort favors from a foreign government to win an election, I would hope he/she would get impeached and convicted. But that’s the difference between Democrats & Republicans. We’re not in a cult.

      • Exactly, Carla. The cult of trumpism lives on, even after the twice-impeached traitor is no longer in office. As the orange buffoon faces the accountability coming his way through investigations of criminal conduct and abuse of power, his delusional lies are still being repeated by indoctrinted cult members. The two Trump impeachments are spoken about as not having happened as such: “Pelosi impeachments”. Laughable, but not funny at all.

  4. And I thought we were not going to have personal attacks in the comments. Yet you allow vicious attacks against Trump and if I was to write those same words and use the word Obama, Pelosi, or any other dinosaurs from the Democrat party you would not allow that comment. The fill a Buster is a great tool and needs to stay if you want to get behind something get behind term limits and end politicians as a career. Both sides suffer from career politicians.

    • Come on Bob–I have a memory that is better than a goldfish’s ..
      Have you forgotten all the “vicious” comments here about “sleepy Joe” and his “ilk” — as Andrew likes to call them?
      Sorry about trump– it is not a “vicious attack” on the man to point out his lies, his corruption, and his sexual deviance. It’s just stating the facts– And, he is kind of orange.

  5. XpresidentRump makes vicious personal attacks everyday.
    Just watch the video of his latest Trump Pity Party or his ‘visit’ to his ‘Wall’.
    What comes around goes around.

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