Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Filibuster Be Damned!

I have already written exhaustive rants about the filibuster, so I will keep this one short. There was a time when I felt emphatically that the filibuster had to remain as a defining element of Senate debate, as it has been an effective tool in keeping the Senate from passing truly heinous laws based on whatever particular craziness seemed to leap out of nowhere and grip the popular majority for a time before running its due course and returning to sanity. With the House, we get all kinds of super kooky bills that have been backed a majority of members and then killed (most often secretly) by this or that Senator that didn't poo poo publicly the House's legislation, which was the Congressional equivalent of a drunk text, but instead would send a nice handwritten note or while deliberating great deliberations in the world's greatest deliberative body would take a moment, perhaps over a nice cup of tea, and sidle to the Senate Majority Leader's desk, tap the House Bill, written out in an elegant hand, and then would shake his head ever so slightly. He would then move on to make a congenial jab at an old Princeton chum from across the aisle before returning to his chair, feeling proud of his tact and poise, something the barbarians in the House simply would understand (comportment! please!). Then he would congratulate himself for staving off another disaster and all before he drank his morning tea.

But don't be fooled, every now and again one of great lions would shake the dust and crumpet crumbs from his great mane, climb to the front of the room and roar. It was unthinkable before the 1980s to indicate that you would filibuster, and then when challenged, meekly step aside. No! You knew that every now and again, the cause of the moment was sometimes taken up by a dangerous majority of the Senate, and it was now not only a point of taste but a point of honor that you should enter into this contest of wills alongside your like-minded and right-minded colleagues and roar down those that challenged your power. And roar they did. Why Strom Thurmond (no lion was he...more like a sickly leopard) proved that he was made of the stuff of which Senators from ancient days had been hewn, when he spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes straight in his attempt to derail the Civil Rights Act!

But one by one the old Senators fell away until only the greatest of the last generation of gentleman senators, the grandmaster of the Senate Robert C. Byrd, remained. Now he too has passed. But long before he took his final rest, as the others were replaced by the Congressional equivalent of new money Senators, the filibuster, which was made great by the risk that you would actually, in rare instances, take the podium, became instead a veto pen wielded by exactly 100 legislatures, each of whom thinks of him or herself as a petty monarch at best or a Grand Duchess at worst.

Well fie I say! FIE! What I once believed to be an integral part of the Senate and the safeguard of the legislative process has now become, instead of a proceed with caution/dangerous roads ahead sign,there is now a stop sign and a checkpoint that makes the Berlin Wall look like it was made out of legos and guarded by Rainbow Brite and those creepy little star creatures.

To Hell with the filibuster! Let America do as the rest of practicing democracies do...pass legislation with a 50% majority (or now again 2/3rd as may be called for by those greatest of all procedural guidelines, Robert's Rules of Order aka my personal Bible). And, just in other countries, when we realized we passed some crazy bullshit, have the House Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader keep calling Congress into session until the ubercrazies take their meds and start talkin' sense again.

Damn...that was a long as rant. I believe it shall be my blog of the

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