Monday, January 14, 2013

Mr. Smith Is Rolling In His Grave!

The big news this weekend was the attempt by the majority in the Senate to limit the use of the filibuster. All the stories referenced the movie Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and all of them talked about how the filibuster had been used hundreds of times recently to prevent the senate from doing practically anything.

I don't know about anyone else, but I have seen this movie - it has been quite some time and I only vaguely remember it, but I have seen it. It agrees with what  learned in my civics classes and that is that the assertion that the filibuster has been used recently is completely bogus! The threat of a filibuster has been used excessively of late, but that is not the same thing.

Very few people have mentioned this small but important fact, but those who have, I agree with. The THREAT of the filibuster is too easy. Any idiot can threaten to filibuster something - and by even making the hint to have the intention to do so seems to be enough to frighten the opposition. The problem is that this only makes the party being filibustered - or more accurately potentially filibustered - look weak!

If the person threatening to filibuster were actually made to REALLY FILIBUSTER it would - as it was intended - be used far more sparingly! Besides that, if the person who wants to stop a bill were forced to actually explain at length why they are opposed to it - and to hold the floor to oppose it, they might not oppose so many actually popular things.

So, you think that making it harder for the criminally insane to buy a howitzer and a couple AKs is a BAD idea? Stand up and defend your stance! I don't think I'll agree with your stance, but I would prefer to know what it is rather than having to guess at it.

If you have a good reason for thinking that they should sell rocket launchers at 7-11, stand up and explain why. Let your constituency to know what your thought process is. Filibuster away! Who can forget Mr. Smith's impassioned oratory?
Jefferson Smith: [His voice very hoarse] Just get up off the ground, that's all I ask. Get up there with that lady that's up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won't just see scenery; you'll see the whole parade of what Man's carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so's he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That's what you'd see. There's no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties. And, uh, if that's what the grownups have done with this world that was given to them, then we'd better get those boys' camps started fast and see what the kids can do. And it's not too late, because this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here; you just have to see them again! 

Wherever you are, I hope that you will stand-up for the things that you really believe in!

Don Bergquist - January 13 2013 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA


Anonymous said...

It's kind of funny that somebody such as yourself who grew up in the South would be talking about filibusters. I remember from school that back in the filibuster days it was mainly southern senators who indulged in filibusters.

I found it interesting that you discussed government inefficiency and gun control in the same blog. It got me to thinking about how frustrated everybody seemed to be during the days before the shootings that occurred around the country back in December. People were very upset about what was going on with the fiscal cliff negotiations and I think that all of us were feeling increased pressure as a result of that. I got to thinking that maybe one or two of the shootings might have been indirectly related to what was going on (or not going on) in Washington D.C. Maybe the inept politicians raised the anger level in the country so high that they inadvertently .....

Anonymous Reader

Don Bergquist said...

Dear Anonymous Reader:

Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting on my blog. I am uncertain as to the source of your mirth at my being from the south and discussing filibusters; remember, I am discussing actual filibusters and not the potential ones that are all the rage these days. Certainly, the south has, historically, been the perpetrator of a number of filibusters. And while I do not agree with the reason for many of the, their practice is something I support.

Remember: The filibuster is meant as a tool to keep the big states or a region of states from imposing their will on the smaller states. It was so that the senator from any state that felt a bill would negatively and unfairly impact their constituency had some means of making thier objection known not only on the floor, but back home as well. The THREAT of the filibuster has no such benefit. It is simply an obstructionist ploy.

I have to agree with you that frustration over the lack of meaningful output from the legislature is one of the things that leads to the tension - which in turn may lead to violence. But I believe you have the causality here backward.

The US has become an intollerant and severely divided nation. The religious right is getting more determined to impose their religious views on everyone else. The left is - in many ways - getting just a bad by not taking into account the impact their demands would have on the right.

This divisionled to more extreme views in the congress and senate and the political system means that extrmemism has to be taken to the halls of power or the politicialn who refuses to toe the extremest party line will be ousted at the next election.

As long as we have a populace that is willing to vote on one issue (be it guns, moral issues, or taxes) to the exclusion of all others, we will have Senatrsand Representatives who feel copelled to be intransigent. The point was, however, as long as that intransigence can be conceiled by threatening to filibuster rather than actually filibustering, the problem will get worse.

IF we made the gun lobby (for example) stand up and try to justify their ludicris demands to allow teens to own Tommy Guns; to allow every whack-job with a conspiracy to build a personal arsenal that would make Doctor Evil drool - their views would be exposed for the self-serving drivel that they are.

Again, thanks for reading and commenting!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for explaining the purpose of the filibuster. Giving power to senators from smaller states might be a good thing. I think the reason it doesn't get used might have something to do with the negative news coverage that would be received. The media would be harsh, I think, and would say that the person doing the filibuster was wasting taxpayer dollars.

I think that your comment about the left not taking into account the impacts that their demands would have on the right was correct. A gun supporter recently said that the left had his group backed up to the wall. I think that the same thing happened in the fiscal cliff negotiations where both sides would make extreme demands that they knew the other side would, from a practical point of view, not be able to accept.


Don Bergquist said...

"Might"? You think the reason that they don't actually filibuster 'might' be that they would get negative coverage? I still content that that is precisely the reason.

The problem, as I have said is the factious nature of the political climate these days. when it comes to the matter of guns, to paraphrase something I once read:

To those on the far left of the spectrum no amount of gun control will be sufficient. To those on the right none will be acceptable.

The problem is that the right is paranoid and the left are doing nothing to allay that paranoia!

Thanks again for reading and commenting on my blog.