Shape Up, Senators
A recent filibuster by Sen. Jim Bunning that for a time blocked an extension of unemployment benefits, medical payments to doctors, and work on major highway projects was a disgusting example of the nonsense going on in Washington, DC.
Just about everybody I know, liberal and conservative alike, is tired of government by power play and parliamentary trickery. Our constitution provides ample checks and balances to protect our legitimate interests. We don’t need a Senate procedure that in effect gives each individual member a veto. The constitution gives that power to the President, and if presidential vetoes are ill-used a sensible process is available to overturn them.
Bunning is a Republican, so of course Democrats skewered him. A few implied he was the worst obstructionist of all time, conveniently forgetting that members of their party used filibusters for decades to block civil rights progress. Bunning countered that he was merely standing up for a budgeting principle. Even some of Bunning’s fellow conservative Senators thought there were better ways to do that.
The filibuster is an archaic device that has no place in our government in the 21st century. Every single Senator--Republican, Democrat, and Independent--should man- or woman-up, take responsibility, and prevent any more of this outrageous disregard for the public trust they were elected to uphold. The Senate rules are what allow filibusters to take place. Who can change the Senate rules? Duh.
Following is an e-mail on the subject recently dispatched to both of my Senators. I’ve never written to a Senator or Congressman as a private citizen before, but I helped their staff people answer lots of constituent letters while working for the U.S. Forest Service. I know these messages get read, and sometimes are taken seriously. This may not be the greatest statement on the subject ever composed, but feel free to copy and use all or parts of it if you choose to urge your Senators to act.
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Dear Sen. Stabenow:
I am outraged by Sen. Bunning’s recent filibuster. It is ridiculous that a single person can wield this sort of power in a democratic republic.
America needs a change in Senate rules to forbid filibusters. If we cannot accept majority decisions from a body of 100 men and women chosen by voters in their states, there is no rational reason to continue with representative government.
Will you take leadership action in pushing for a rules change to ban filibusters?
I hope the staffer who handles these messages will let you know that at least one constituent is serious about this situation and intends to try to convince others to protest. The answer to my question, which also was sent to Sen. Levin, will be a decider for me on whether I support or actively oppose you in future elections.
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