Old Mitch McConnell had a plan in his failed attempt to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Here a filibuster, there a filibuster, everywhere a filibuster in the name of obstructing the Senate’s business to make Obama a one-term president.
Filibuster usage used to mean that those seeking to filibuster actually had to be in the legislative body, speaking endlessly in the name of preventing a vote, seeking to add amendments to a proposed legislation or simply extending debate. Under the current rules, one can call it in without any personal inconveniences, such as having to be in the Senate, or talking non-stop, a la Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith goes to Washington.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with support from President Obama wants the filibuster to return to the days of Mr. Smith. According to Huffington Post/YouGov poll, the people are all for filibuster reform.
THE HUFFPOST/YOUGOV POLL
Should senators who filibuster a bill need to participate in debate for the entire filibuster, or should they be able to filibuster a bill without being physically present?
Naturally, Mitch McConnell opposes the rule changes because, “The American people sent us here to be their voice. They understand that those voices can at times become loud and argumentative, but they also hope we can disagree without being disagreeable.”
What they do not expect is for one party, be it Republican or Democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game so they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet. The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.
Mr. McConnell, 65 percent of Americans believe senators should “participate in debate for the entire filibuster,” so you can rest assured that filibuster reform is not about suppressing your voice or those of the people you purport to represent. We want you to speak all the way through the filibuster. Speak all you want, whether it’s the phone book, the bible, or Grover Norquist’s pledge. The point is if you want a filibuster you must speak, which is the polar opposite of being told to sit down and keep quiet.
If you are going to stop the nation’s business, you better have a reason beyond partisan gamesmanship and you better be prepared to participate in the filibuster that you wanted.
Seventy-nine per cent of American voters want those who call for filibuster to be present and participate in the filibuster debate, vs. calling a stop to the nation’s business on everything from important legislation like the Dream Act, to routine of the Senate’s business. since some of those voters voted for Republican senators, there is room to suggest that perhaps they feel it is more an affront to them to stall the nation’s business for partisan reasons.
In a desperate attempt to oppose the rule change, McConnell actually tried to argue that a rule requiring participation in a filibuster debate is about silencing voices, notwithstanding the fact that his abuse of the filibuster had that very effect.
Let’s be clear: The rules change that’s being proposed is not an affront to me or to the Republican Party. It’s an affront to the American people,” McConnell said. “It’s an affront to the people who sent me and the other 46 Republicans here to represent them in the Senate, but whose voices would be shut out if the majority leader and this cohort of short-sighted Senate sophomores have their way and permanently change this body.
Seriously? How does requiring those who want a filibuster to speak silence them? More to the point, with 79% of voters favoring reform, people who voted for McConnell and the other 46 Republicans want them to put their mouth where their filibuster is. If anything is an affront to the people, it the Republican desire to bring the nation’s business to a screeching halt without putting any effort in to defend or justify their actions.
It’s worth noting that voting Americans support continued use of the filibuster, but not the abuse we have witness for years. These rule changes have everything to do with a reasonable expectation that if you are going to call for a filibuster, then perhaps you should be present and participating during the debate.
You can sign the petition to support filibuster reform here.
Image from The New Mexico Independent