Fearing the Frightful Filibuster

by Mary Pitt

The Republicans are already indicating their intent to use the same tactics that they used in the past two years in the minority to block many of the programs that are vital to the plans of President-elect Obama. They cling to the “sixty-vote cloture” rule as if it were the Holy Grail and intend to exercise it at every turn in the deliberations of the upcoming Congressional session.

Let them!

Let them filibuster! That can be done by refusing to sit back and whimper as has the past Congress under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid. The Legislature can pass all the programs of the President but the Democrats in the Senate need to grow a spine and stand up to the filibuster threat by pushing those programs despite them. What’s the worst that could happen?

Under the rules of the filibuster, one speaker must continue to argue until the opposition surrenders and decides to let the bill in question die. This becomes a mental and physical marathon and I don’t believe there is an orator in today’s Senate who can sustain it. Over the years past, some very colorful characters have arisen who used the filibuster successfully and provided much entertainment for the public in the process. Some have collapsed in the attempt to block a vote but many have succeeded in continuing for a number of days and nights in standing on their feet and keeping up the flow of words. If the opposition surrenders, they are henceforth known as heroes but, if they fail, the bill goes to a vote and may become law.

Now, in a filibuster, it simply doesn’t matter what the Senator says so long as he continues talking. History is replete with examples of these legandary orators who gave their all for the party. Senator Robert Byrd was noted for reading the Constitution aloud, over,,,and over…and over, until the opposition folded. Senator Everett Dirkson, he of the silver tongue, was an inspiration as he spoke about the values or lack thereof of the motion in question. However, I think it is time to discover whether there are any current Senators who are truly willing and able to engage in such physically and mentally gruelling exercise in support of their political opinion.

During the last Congressional session, all the Republicans had to do was to threaten filibuster and Speaker Pelosi would not even allow a vote in the House because the Senate could not muster the required sixty-vote majority for cloture. She would announce that, “We just don’t have the votes in the Senate”, roll over like a spanked puppy, and pee on the floor!

It’s time to call their bluff. We all know that Republicans are bullies and will use any minor advantage they can find in order to advance their own agenda or to stymie that of their opponents. If they want to filibuster, let them! When their champion tires and falls over, they can then resume business as usual and vote on the measure in question. It is long and tiring but it is still possible and “possible” is what America needs at this time. The voters are tired of their very lifeblood being drained by the machinations of bullies and we should allow no more of it.

If the current occupants of the chairs in the Senate have not the courage and determination to stand up for us, then perhaps those chairs should be occupied by people with more of what we Americans call “guts”. President Obama has been charged with performing nothing less than a series of miracles in order to restore democracy but he cannot do it alone. The Congress is going to have to reach deep down and discover the strength and the courage that is necessary to accomplish any of them. If they do not, the United States is doomed to become just another historic legend along with Athens and Rome.

The author is a very “with-it” old lady who aspires to bring a bit of truth, justice, and common sense to a nation that has lost touch with its humanity in the search for “societal perfection”.

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