The filibuster is useful, because it is useful in a democracy to be able to say “No” to the people and to their duly elected representatives. That is why we have a First Amendment, a Second Amendment, and the rest of the Bill of Rights: Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump cannot be entrusted with fundamental liberties, and neither can we, the jackasses who entrusted them with power. The Senate, especially, is supposed to slow things down, to suffocate democratic passions, and to make strait the gate and narrow the way for destructive popular legislation. The more the Senate comes to resemble the House, the less useful it is. The Senate’s distinctiveness serves practical rather than aesthetic functions.

Democrats looking to eliminate the filibuster in 2021 should keep in mind that in January 2017 the elected branches of the federal government were under unified Republican control led by Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and Donald Trump, three representatives of the will of the people to whom Democrats very much wanted to say “No.” Democrats tell themselves a bedtime story about that — that this was not the result of legitimate democracy, which can never fail but can only be failed. That is a superstition, one that James Madison had somehow managed to liberate himself from all the way back in 1787. Madison helped to create a government of checks and balances.

I cannot think of a single thing about Washington today that makes me believe it needs one fewer check.