There is a strong political wind blowing against the filibuster in the Senate.
The filibuster is a practice that arguably protects the rights of the minority in the Senate by allowing unlimited debate on most measures—talking a bill to death—unless the bill gets 60 votes, a practice known as cloture, to shut off debate. Some contend the threat of filibuster also encourages bipartisanship, which is good.
The debate over the filibuster is one that has always generated more heat than light, but in today’s climate where civility is a sign of weakness and timidity, the debate generates even more hypocrisy, hyperbole, disingenuousness, and nasty partisanship.
Senate Democrats, along with the President, who used to support the filibuster, are now taking the debate to new heights, or lows, by accusing those supporting the filibuster of racism. The race card is being played by Senator Elizabeth Warren, among others, and her friends in the media. They contend that the filibuster was created as a parliamentary procedure for blocking anti-slavery legislation and is a “relic of the Jim Crow era.”
A little history sometimes clears the air of hyperbolic pollutants. The use of the tactic can be traced back to the Roman Republic and a debate in the Senate over tax collectors pitting Marcus Cato against rival Julius Caesar in 48 BC. It’s an interesting tale but not relevant. Continue reading →
“John’s voice will always come as a whisper over our shoulder: ‘We are better than this; America is better than this.’” — Eulogy for the late Senator John McCain at funeral services in the National Cathedral by former President George W. Bush
John McCain wasn’t alone wanting our politics to be better than this. It would do all of us some good to keep his memory alive more than a couple of weeks, despite what’s going on around us.
We know what ‘this’ is. It only took a few days for McCain’s legacy to turn to dust, replaced with more anger, distrust, dishonesty, hyperventilation, vulgarity, and incivility, and that, exclusive of President Donald Trump’s behavior.
The “this” has continued the erosion of American institutions and the abandonment of American values. I believe the vast majority of Americans agreed with McCain and are fed up with “this.” McCain preached the politics of inclusion and the personal behavior of courage and civility. He didn’t always succeed in putting them into practice, but they were among the values he considered critical to the survival of our grand experiment in self-governance.
I just heard for the first time the government-sponsored commercial for Medicare starring Andy Griffith. Remember him? Mayberry Sheriff Andy Taylor?
In the ad, Ole Andy harkens back 1965, when, he says, a lot of good things happened – like Medicare. That’s not how I remember 1965, but I digress.
Andy’s sitting in an easy chair petting a dog. He says: “This year, like always, we will have our guaranteed benefits and with the new law, more good things are coming, like free check ups, lower prescription costs and more ways to protect us and Medicare from fraud.” That’s about it. That’s the ad.
Initial cost for this vignette: 700,000 of your tax dollars.
Not only is the ad an egregious misuse of tax dollars, it is an injustice to and deception of American seniors, most of whom, according to the polls, don’t like Obamacare.