In the wake of the GOP's acquittal of former President Donald Trump, the Sunrise Movement on Monday joined the progressive lawmakers and activists arguing that the failure of Democrats to secure bipartisan cooperation—even during an impeachment trial meant to hold Trump accountable for provoking a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol—exemplifies why the majority party must eliminate the legislative filibuster if it hopes to pursue a transformative agenda capable of improving social and environmental well-being.
Only seven Republican senators on Saturday joined all 50 members of the Democratic caucus in declaring Trump "guilty" for inciting a violent insurrection against the elected government of the United States. Those 57 votes are far fewer than the two-thirds majority required for conviction, and they don't even reach the 60-vote threshold necessary for negating the filibuster, an anti-democratic rule currently inhibiting the implementation of reforms that are popular with a majority of the electorate.
"If 10 Republicans won't even work across the aisle to convict the man who deployed a deadly attack on them, how will Democrats convince 10 or more of them to take meaningful action to rebuild our economy, tackle the climate crisis, or do any of the basic work of the American people?"
That's the question Evan Weber, political director of the Sunrise Movement, posed on Monday in a statement reflecting on the fact that 43 Republican senators "whose own lives hung in the balance" on January 6 "voted for no consequences" for Trump even after he spent months delegitimizing President Joe Biden's electoral victory and sparked a coup attempt that threatened members of Congress and left five people dead.
The answer, Weber said, is that "if Democrats do not abolish the filibuster, and instead continue to seek compromise with a Republican Party that is comfortable with violent sedition, they will be unable to deliver for the American people in this moment of overlapping crises."
The Sunrise Movement, a climate justice group, is not alone is pointing to the GOP's acquittal of Trump by a 57-43 margin as evidence of the need to eliminate the filibuster. Joining them, as Common Dreams reported Sunday, are Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), immigrant rights organizer Erika Andiola, and others.
Weber characterized Senate Republicans' acquittal of Trump as a clear sign that "the GOP is an irredeemable party of violence—they vote for bills that perpetuate gun violence, the violence of hunger, the everyday violence of poverty, the violence of our fossil fuel economy; and now, they've acquitted a man who incited a violent insurrection."
Pointing out that Democrats have unified control of the legislative and executive branches of the federal government because "significant majorities of the American people" elected them to pass legislation that addresses crucial issues—such as advancing voting rights, economic and racial equality, and other key priorities—Weber asserted that "the time is now to abolish the filibuster."
"The stakes for our country, democracy, and planet could not be higher," said Weber. "If Democrats don't deliver in this moment, future Presidents Days will recognize Trump's second term, or perhaps an even more authoritarian President Josh Hawley with runaway climate catastrophe, where there won't be much of a future to recognize at all."