I have been one among many in the progressive world trying to draw more attention to the dysfunctions of the U.S. Senate, in particular the now-routine use of the filibuster, which has put a default 60-vote requirement on legislation that amounts to a fundamental change in U.S. governance — and not a positive change.
It seems the subject is finally catching on. The Atlantic’s James Fallows and the NYT’s Paul Krugman have both written excellent columns on the subject recently, and now liberal heroine Rachel Maddow has taken up the banner. Here’s a fantastic clip from her show a couple nights ago, which addresses the filibuster head-on, in her typically erudite and entertaining way:Vodpod videos no longer available.
And here’s the clip that immediately followed — if you watch to the end, you see that NYT columnist Tom Friedman applies the filibuster critique to the climate/energy bill:Vodpod videos no longer available.
We need more people talking about this. Please, green activists, let go of your obsession with Obama’s alleged character flaws and think more about the structural and institutional barriers to action! Especially the filibuster: It’s blocking U.S. action, which is blocking international action. The world’s fate rests in the myopic, sociopathically indifferent hands of Ben Nelson, who represents one-half of one percent of U.S. citizens. Do you want it that way?
UPDATE: Lo and behold! As I speak, People for the American Way has put out a new report: “The Numbers Don’t Lie–GOP Obstruction Efforts Unprecedented in Senate.” A must-read, as they say.