You want to defeat the filibuster?

February 13, 2010 at 11:56 pm | Posted in politics straight up, senate | Leave a comment
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Republican minority filibustering Democratic majority

Senate chamber in U.S. Capitol. 1952 April. (Library of Congress)

Clearly there are not 67 votes in the Senate to change the filibuster rule, but what about working within the system to make Republicans sweat the decision to demand a cloture vote to override a filibuster threat?

Senator Begich of Alaska had this to say about the filibuster in a recent interview, and it gave me an idea:

Begich: It’s just kind of a parlor game, it’s a parlor trick and what they do is they claim a “cloture vote” which is a vote that requires 60 votes instead of a real filibuster where you actually have to sit on the floor and talk about why you’re doing this. You just go home! And they get 30 hours to do nothing and the senate really just stands in stall. If people turn on C-Span they’ll see people presiding and the room empty, because they just get to burn up 30 hours of time and that’s it. In days gone by you’d actually have to come down and debate the reason why you’re holding up the legislation that might be in front. But the reason they don’t do that now, especially the minority, is because they’d be embarrassed. Because all they’re doing is coming down and delaying for the sake of delaying and costing this economy, costing American jobs, costing Alaskan jobs. It’s really a shame. So I hope in a lot of ways we can get beyond that a lot of the freshmen on both Democrat and Republican are somewhat fed up with that process and want to move forward and doing the business that this country, that my state, sent me here to do.

What if Democratic senators didn’t “go home,” but instead stayed in front of those C-Span cameras and explained to the American people what is not happening because Republicans are holding the government hostage? What if Democratic senators took the opportunity to educate the public about the costs and benefits of universal health care systems in other countries, or even Hawaii? I would imagine that Senator Franken could fill an hour talking about the NBC/Comcast merger.

The chances of Harry Reid taking the initiative and using that empty room to remind Americans through all those wasted hours just exactly why our government isn’t working is pretty remote. I keep trying to figure out why Harry Reid is Senate Majority Leader. Does he view it as an honorary title? From what I can see, at best he views himself as a kindergarten teacher, when he should be acting like the coach of a professional sports team. Instead of urging his members to play it safe, he should be encouraging his members to play hard ball.

If the Republicans don’t want to stand in the empty Senate chamber and filibuster, the Democratic senators should be standing there instead, pointing out that the Republicans don’t want the public to know that they have little or no good reason for blocking votes.

How about it, Democratic senators? Are you really so afraid of the crybaby Republicans that you can’t beat them at this stupid game?


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