Bust the filibuster


Since the inception of representative government and the universal installation and respect for a one-representative/one-vote system of ethics, the rule by majority has made way for a political system of fairness within which majority rules. For many years, there merely existed an option of each senator or representative to simply vote (thumbs) up or (thumbs) down. The notion of a single vote being cast which would override many other votes had been, in the Western world of democracy, unknown until relatively recently.

While the above one-representative/one-vote system is a cherished principle, it is no longer the case in the U. S. Senate. Today, one member of this legislative body has the ability to completely freeze the intentions of a very solid majority. This phenomenon of undemocratic government has come to be known as "the filibuster." In order for one senator to stall a piece of legislation, he may merely rise to the floor, and in effect, monopolize it through reading a phone book in order to successfully shut down a piece of legislation. Senators can and have invoked filibusters at whim. Today, no one even needs to read a phone book. A 40 percent minority can bring a piece of legislation to a screeching halt.

Yet, this can be altered. There exists a narrow window of opportunity for Americans, through their designated representatives, to reinvent democracy between now and January 22. The reform of the filibuster which has destructively been paralyzing America's political process now stands as a distinct possibility: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will have the opportunity on Jan. 22 to change the filibuster's "silent form." He will, however, need strong support from the rest of the senate.

What we can do is to reinforce the message to our senators that we expect them to work toward the end of a finer, fairer form of American democracy. For Coloradoans, the following information is vital: U. S. Sen. Michael Bennet, (202) 224-5852; U. S. Sen. Mark Udall, (877) 768-3255.

James A. Mischke


Via email