Last night, on The Daily Show, noted presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, noted presidential historian endorsed my position on the filibuster. At around 3:30 of this clip she announces:

“Let them filibuster. Do you know how great they’re going to look, these Republicans, trying not to go to the bathroom?”

Of course, I think I used a wittier phrase, but she’s got a lot more gravitas!

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Make Them Read the Phone Book

On January 28, 2010, in On the Hill, by Josh

Having just watched the State of the Union, I want to get something off my chest. There are some Senators who think the best thing to do right now to unclog the Senate’s arteries is to end the filibuster.

I disagree.

The best way to shake things loose is to actually enforce the filibuster.

Democrats may have lost their alleged “filibuster-proof majority,” (though, functionally, I don’t think they ever really had one), but we still have an 18-seat majority in the Senate, and it’s time to use it.

All that’s standing between this country and a lot of good policy is the threat of a filibuster. Not an actual filibuster, the threat of a filibuster.

I just got back from Massachusetts, where Scott Brown won a Senate seat on a promise to be the “41st Vote” to block the President’s agenda–and it was easy for him to to make that promise, because he doesn’t think he’ll ever asked to actually cast that vote!

Procedural filibusters have become the norm, and as a result,  it now takes 60 votes in the Senate to do anything more controversial than renaming a Post Office. Frankly, sometimes it takes 60 to even to do that. It’s not the way things are supposed to be.

The Senate Majority Leader can require an actual filibuster. For the sake of accountability, he needs to do it.

Let’s see what the Republicans’ resolve really is.

Let’s see what happens when they’re forced to hold the floor, Jimmy Stewart-style, in opposition to bill after bill after bill.

Let’s see how Scott Brown’s constituents react when he’s standing in the well of the Senate, on their dime, reading the Worcester yellow pages (do they still print yellow pages?) instead of doing what they sent him to Washington to do–vote on legislation.

Let’s see if Republican leaders have the stomach to read the bible cover to cover while their constituents sit at home, waiting for the job market to pick up.

Let’s see how the American public reacts when they turn on their teevees and see who is really to blame for the gridlock that’s keeping America from moving forward.

And let’s see how long they continue to obstruct after constituents get tired of seeing their elected representatives take vote after vote after vote in favor of more readings from the book of Verizon.

Right now, Republicans are getting off easy. They threaten to block progress, then blame the Democrats for not progressing.

It’s time to call their bluff.

It’s time to make them read the phone book.

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