The Senate-clogging mechanism was clearly not intended by the Founders, but they did allow the two houses of Congress to determine the rules by which they would conduct their proceedings.
The path to the filibuster arose accidentally out of an attempt to improve the clarity of the Senate’s rules.
This left the senate in the mode of assuming that no members would abuse this path in order to subvert the will of the majority on a major issue.
It wasn’t until 1917 that the procedure was carried to an extreme. At that point a group of isolationist senators talked for 23 days until the senate’s session came to an end in order to block Woodrow Wilson’s intention to arm merchant ships prior to formal entry into World War I. The response to this action was to establish a mechanism for terminating "debate."
The filibuster again became an issue when it was used by southern senators as a means obstructing attempts to combat their Jim Crow laws and Policies. Minimal reforms were put in place, but it wasn’t until 1974 that significant changes were made.
There is a valid argument to be made that the filibuster is important in preventing a majority from imposing onerous conditions on a minority. The problem with such an argument is that it cannot conceivably apply to all matters of legislation. Not all laws should require a supermajority.
The means for changing this procedure have always been available, but party leaders seem to have little motivation to dramatically weaken the right to filibuster. Younger majority Senators are perpetually outraged at the obstructionism allowed. Older senators remember what it was like to be a member of the minority and how useful it was to have the filibuster available as a weapon at those times.
In truth, the controversy over use of the filibuster doesn’t relate to poor procedural rules, or malfeasance on the part of one particular party or the other; it relates to the fact that we have two components to our society and each views the other as an existential threat. When filibusters are invoked today, the two parties are not arguing over the most effective features of a proposed law, they are arguing that their way of life is being put at risk.
Recall that the Founders thought it important to require a supermajority for ratification of a treaty. Treaties are difficult to negotiate because they often involve two nations that have little trust in each other, and the issues can be momentous—even existential. An analogy between contending nations and contending political parties becomes compelling when we consider how diametrically opposed the Republican and Democratic parties are on just about every issue. Whether one wants to describe the situation as liberal versus conservative, North versus South, rural versus urban, religious versus sectarian, libertarian versus communitarian—aspects of all are involved—we are, in fact, two nations trying to live together as one.
One should recall that the United States was created as two nations: slave and non-slave. We have yet to fully overcome that initial division. Conflict flared up and led to the Civil War. It flared up again and resulted in the tumultuous and violent civil rights struggles in the middle of the twentieth century. It seems we have one more conflict to endure. One can draw a straight line across time from the economic and political philosophy espoused by the slave-state South to that of the Southern core of the Republican Party today.
We must decide whether we are a nation of individuals who function better when acting in concert, or we are a nation of individuals who need collaborate only when absolutely necessary. Until we reach an overwhelming consensus on that issue we might as well keep the filibuster rule in place. Perhaps the continuing dysfunction will force our citizens to finally come to a definitive conclusion.