These trolley problems should be difficult! They are supposed to create ethical dilemmas that force you to weigh priorities. Can you really have finished them in under one minute? Let me see your answers, Joe.

1) An out-of-control trolley is barreling down a track. Strapped to that track, a few hundred feet down the line, is H.R. 1, a voting rights bill that would roll back various anti-democratic encroachments. That trolley will surely crush the bill! People gather by the tracks, pointing and gesticulating: “Someone rescue that bill! The only thing that will allow our representative government to continue is in that bill!” Just a few feet down the line, there is a switch that can divert the trolley onto another track, away from the bill. But! Lying strapped to that length of track is the filibuster. Do you pull the swi—

No.

Why?

Well, the filibuster is on the other length of track.

2) An out-of-control trolley is barreling down a track toward a commission to investigate the deadly insurrection at the Capitol. There is a switch that can divert the trolley onto another track, away from the commission, but lying strapped to that length of track is the filibuster. The filibuster would not even be killed, but it might be modified by the experience of colliding with the trolley. Do you pull the switch?

No. The filibuster could be CHANGED, and I like it just the way it is!

3) A trolley is barreling down a track to which is strapped the entire Biden agenda. The filibuster is on its siding just sitting there, not even really strapped down, and it doesn’t look all that worried. Do you pull the switch?

Next question!

4) A trolley is barreling toward six people strapped to the tracks. However, there is a switch you can pull before the trolley reaches them. This will send the trolley onto a siding where one person is strapped to the track. Do you pull the switch?

I save the filibuster.

There was no filibuster in that last question! It was just a normal trolley problem!

5) A healthy man comes into a hospital where there are five patients who would die without his organs. You are a surgeon. Do you take the man’s organs, killing him, and thereby saving your five patients?

I take the organs and give them to the filibuster.

This one isn’t about the filibuster either! In your scenario, six people have just died and you have offered organs to a Senate procedural rule that does not want them!

Yes.

6) A man and his son are in an accident and are taken to the hospital. When the doctor starts to operate on the boy, the doctor turns pale. “I can’t operate on this boy! He is my son!” Why did the doctor say this?

The boy is the filibuster. The doctor loves the filibuster very much and doesn’t want to hurt it even by mistake.

7) The filibuster is strapped to a length of track, and an out-of-control trolley is barreling towar—

I pull the switch.

Do you want to know what the trolley will hit instead?

No.

8) What may be our last chance to take meaningful action on climate change is strapped to a length of track, and a trolley is barreling rapidly toward it. The filibuster is strapped to a siding. Do you pull the switch?

I gather a bipartisan group of legislators to stop the trolley.

You have to pull the switch.

We will stop the trolley together in the best Senate tradition.

Okay, but that trolley sure is moving fast!

9) An increase to the minimum wage is lying on a length of track, and the filibuster is lying a little farther down the same length of track. Pulling the switch will send the trolley down an empty siding, away from both of them.

Oh, this is impossible!

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