Indeed, the only reason why filibustering minority members don’t stand and read out of the phone book like sotrmin’ Strom used to do is because people thought that it would encourage comity. Sounds archaic, doesn’t it? Since some time around the Gingrich years the GOP decided to drop any pretense of courtesy. In that light I see no reason save the Democrat’s pissant timidity why the majority party should not return the favor. I would love to see Mitch McConnell or Trent Lot hold up the Senate for six hours or longer over a procedural vote for a massively popular bill that passed the Senate 96-2. Good theater and good politics, and all it takes is a pair of balls.
In ye olden days you and I would read that last phrase and think, “Democrats? Balls? I guess that’s the end of that.” Insofar as we blogizens serve any purpose at all I think the old cynicism is only half deserved. There is a source of hope for Dems sacking up these days. It’s us. If you’re sick of watching Dems bring Nerf bats to a gun fight then spread the word around. Call your Democratic Senator and let him or her know that you’re sick of them acting like chumps. Kevin Drum recently mused, despairingly:
I wonder how many Americans understand that you can’t pass legislation in America with 50% of the votes in Congress? How many of them understand that, outside of budget resolutions, you need 60 votes in the Senate? That a filibuster isn’t a matter of Jimmy Stewart talking himself ragged for hours on end, but of merely declaring an intention to filibuster? And that this is done for all but the most routine matters? With the result that the 60-vote minimum is no longer reserved for occasional high-profile issues, but has been institutionalized for virtually all legislation of any consequence?
I figure maybe 2%.
Among other advantages (kittens!) the blogosphere is great at making a lot of noise in a hurry. If you think this issue deserves it, and I think it’s pretty obvious that this issue does, then spread the word around. Enough bloggers generating enough noise could put the “enhanced filibuster” on the table by the weekend.
Didn’t the GOP try to force the Dems to do a “real” filibuster a couple years ago? IIRC, there were shrieks and howls (not by you) of “unfair, unfair, anti-comity, pushing around the minority” etc.
I don’t know about your reference “some time around the Gingrich years the GOP decided to drop any pretense of courtesy.” Or perhaps you mean it as a general statement (true enough), rather than to any change in filibuster procedures.
All that being said, regardless of which party is in the majority, if the minority wants to filibuster, I say ‘make ’em bring in the cots.’
Ironic, because the Republicans got so little work done in the 109th Congress anyway, is that the filibuster is an attempt to logjam government. If you can’t end debate on the issue at hand, you can’t table the issue to move on to the next. So you get a backlog of legislation and angry lobbyists on all sides.
Dems have a great deal of work they are trying to accomplish and the Republicans know that. Filibusters are deliberately obstructionist. Compare that to the 109th where even the general budget bills were given short shift and passed in the dead of night like a half-finished term paper on the last day of classes, and you come to realize that in the hands of the Dems, the filibuster was weak. Republicans didn’t want to govern. They wanted to castigate their enemies. But in the hands of Republicans, the filibuster is deadly, because Dems don’t want to sit around name calling and being assholes, they want to actually govern.
What the minimum percentage of the population that is represented by 41 Republican Senate votes?
There is an argument on the Dem’s side that if they can’t get 60 votes to beat a filibuster then they’ll never get 67 to overturn a veto. But that’s politically stupid – how many Repubs really will waste their fundraising time on a filibuster just to protect the little emperor from having to take the heat for a veto?
It should closely correlate to the 20 states that suck up the most welfare from the rest of us who work for a living.
Start with Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.
Yup, my argument could well be taken to mean that Dems should act a smidgen more like Republicans. Think about it this way – you’re the Steelers, the Browns are cheating up a storm and the refs won’t ref. Would you eventually, after some consideration and genial encouragement from the fans, start to meet the other guys halfway?
Dems are getting taken for chumps by guys who don’t respect the way the game has traditionally been played, and apparently in today’s media environment that’s just fine. We don’t get to govern by Schoolhouse Rock rules anymore. Given that reality, maybe it is no longer useful for Dems to go on bringing nerf bats to work. If that amounts to an admission that Gingrich won, well, maybe he did.
Interestingly enough srv, Texas sends out more than it takes in…. barely.
add NC to that list : 2 R Senators. but we’re in the revenue-neutral category.