Jewish World Review July 19, 2013/ 11 Menachem-Av, 5773
Save the filibuster
By Paul Greenberg
The majority leader of the
How? By replacing the
Many a scholarly defense of the filibuster has been delivered over the years, not the least of them by an eloquent young senator from
"While I have not been here too long," he began, "I have noticed that partisan debate is sharp, and dissent is not always well received. Honest differences of opinion and principled compromise often seem to be the victim of a determination to score points against one's opponents. But the American people sent us here to be their voice. They understand that those voices can at times become loud and argumentative, but they also hope we can disagree without being disagreeable. At the end of the day, they expect both parties to work together to get the people's business done. What they do not expect is for one party, be it Republican or Democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game so they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet.
"The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness, and the gridlock will only get worse."
That was the view of a promising new member of the
A long-time aide to various Democratic senators,
"The right in the
It would have been a pity, and danger, to lose the filibuster because a blusterer insisted on having his way.
Give 'em a happy ending every time. This cliffhanger ended when, after intense negotiations, the president agreed to withdraw a couple of his more contentious nominations and the Republicans consented to approve some of his less objectionable ones.
The president had snubbed such a compromise when it was first proposed by the leader of the Republican minority,
Once again crisis has been averted by compromise. Webster, Clay and Calhoun would surely have approved. Well, maybe not
Moral of the story: It pays to stand up to bullies.
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