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Graphing Obstruction

You’ve heard it before. “Both parties act the same.” “Democrats and Republicans are equally responsible for gridlock.”

Yet, if you look at the figures one party seems conspicuously more willing to change the culture and ramp up the obstructionism. One of Kevin Drum’s readers made this chart plotting the use of the filibuster when each party is in the minority.

It’s pretty clear Republicans are driving the increase as Drum says. I wanted to have some fun with my new graphing tool so I broke down the numbers a little more. First, I wanted to check this statement by Drum:

When you add up all the red segments, they represent virtually the entire increase in the use of the filibuster over the past half century.

At first I thought he meant the GOP has been responsible for almost all the use in the filibuster.

Certainly they’re responsible for a large majority (61%) of the cloture motions, but not almost all of it. More specifically, he’s claiming the GOP is responsible for “virtually the entire increase.” If you graph the percent change from each congress this becomes more clear.

Ahhh… Now it’s clear who’s steering the change. You can look at this two ways and I think both are correct. When it comes to obstructing the will of the majority, Republicans are leaders and the Democrats are followers. Neither is encouraging.

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