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New right-wing ad claims the filibuster is a victim of 'cancel culture'

The ad also points out the filibuster was ‘used’ by former West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, an opponent of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

By Josh Israel - April 13, 2021
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West Virginia filibuster ad

A right-wing group released a new ad on Tuesday, defending the Senate’s filibuster rule and claiming it is totally not racist. Their ad inadvertently debunks its own argument.

The 30-second spot by the Club for Growth, titled “West Virginia Thing,” aims to pressure Sen. Joe Machin (D-WV) to continue his opposition to changing a Senate rule that allows the minority to block most legislation unless it enjoys super-majority support.

Several unnamed people — all of them apparently white — appear in the spot, mocking the idea of getting rid of the filibuster as “cancel culture.”

“A good example of ‘cancel culture’ is the filibuster,” argues one. “We don’t like it so let’s say that it’s racist.”

“Senator Byrd — he used it all the time! It’s a West Virginia thing,” opines another, referencing the late Robert Byrd, who represented the state in the Senate from 1959 to 2010.

“We don’t want the far-left coming in here and telling us how to live. The filibuster’s our safeguard against that,” agrees a third.

 

And as Adam Jentleson chronicles in his recent book “Kill Switch,” the filibuster was long used as a tool for racists to protect slavery and fight civil rights legislation.

Indeed Byrd, a former Ku Klux Klansman whose views on race evolved over his long career, infamously used the filibuster for 14 hours and 13 minutes in 1964, attempting to block the Civil Rights Act, before voting against the bill. A year later he also backed similar efforts to block the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Club for Growth, a tax-exempt dark-money group, has spent years pushing the Republican Party to be even more right wing. It has worked to cancel the careers of mainstream GOP incumbents, backing primary challenges to former Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Dick Lugar of Indiana.

The group also absurdly claimed in October 2019 that Democrats were trying to cancel the 2020 elections entirely. “These days it’s all about impeachment all the time. One party pushing for power by any means necessary: nullify the last election, cancel the next one,” their ads baselessly asserted at the time.

Though Americans elected a narrow Democratic majority in the House and Senate — and Senate Democrats represent about 41 million more people than their Republican colleagues do — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he hopes to use the filibuster to block virtually all of the agenda they ran on.

This means popular legislation to protect voting rights, guard against violence against racial minorities, and protections for LGBTQ people could be what is canceled — without ever getting an up-or-down vote in the Senate.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

 


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