John Oliver on why filibusters exist and argues why they should be eliminated

John Oliver (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
John Oliver (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images) /

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver gave viewers an explanation of the filibuster before arguing it should no longer be used.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver knows that a lot of people think the U.S. Senate doesn’t get anything done. Many argue it has been at least a decade since a major piece of social legislation passed in the senate. According to Oliver, this level of inactivity can largely be blamed on the filibuster.

This week’s episode of Last Week Tonight was another prime example of John Oliver breaking down a topic with which his viewers are likely somewhat familiar. Oliver manages to take things a step further, providing research, context, and facts in an entertaining way.

Last Week Tonight fans have seen this countless times. Topics like impeachment, Brexit, and charter schools have all been the subject of more in-depth coverage from Oliver.

So when Oliver turns his focus to how the U.S government functions (or doesn’t), it is always worth paying a little extra attention. A number of studies are conducted on the productivity of the Senate. For anyone wondering why more doesn’t get accomplished, Oliver suggests putting a chunk of the blame on the filibuster.

Oliver sets out to make sure the filibuster is known for what it is: a tool for obstruction. He pushes back against misconceptions that the filibuster is a heroic act of defiance. After all, if the word derives from a term for a pirate how much should it actually be celebrated?

To do that, Oliver takes a step back and makes it clear that the Senate isn’t exactly the “cooling saucer” or the bastion of debate. And in the Senate, the filibuster is used to protect political minorities and not minorities among the American population.

Oliver presents more modern examples of filibustering in action. He points out that it more for spectacle than any governing purpose. The actions of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are enough for Oliver to call for eliminating the filibuster.

The argument that the filibuster promotes bipartisanship also gets knocked down by Oliver. He makes a clear case for why any noble intention behind filibustering no longer exists as senators are proud to kill bills on the floor or prevent them from even being considered.

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It is not often that John Oliver shares an opinion with President Donald Trump. But both men have called for an end to the filibuster. Oliver knows it’s a risk but calls it a risk worth taking in the interest of a Senate that actually gets things done. Maybe it can take a lesson in efficiency from Last Week Tonight.