The trick to filibustering

I got a fundraising letter from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is dedicated to the goal of electing more Democratic Senators to U. S. Congress. The letter was signed by Sen. Harry Reid, the Majority Leader for the Democratic Caucus in the Senate.

The very first sentence nearly made me fall out of my chair:

Dear Friend,

Contribute today!

The difference between real change and more of the same is a filibuster-proof Senate. Without it, Barack Obama’s hands will be tied.

(Emphasis in the original)

Did they think I was stupid, or simply unaware? Obviously I’m getting their form letters because I have donated to them in the past. Obviously I’ve donated to them (and other Democratic and political candidates and organizations) because I pay attention.

And because I pay attention, I know well the reasons the filibuster has been so effective in the last two sessions of Congress.

Like Sen. Joe Biden said in the recent Vice-Presidential debate, I am not questioning their motives, but rather, their judgment.

So I sent them the following letter:

I know Sen. Reid is unlikely to actually read my reply, but I could not let this email pass without comment. So to the probably-unpaid intern who gets my reply, here’s my thoughts, for what it’s worth.

I only got as far as the very first sentence of Sen. Reid’s plea for donations before I did a spit-take. He’s hoping for a “fillibuster-proof Senate”?

The Senate of the 110th Congress has seen an unprecedented number of filibusters by the supposedly-minority party, yes, that much is true. A quick Google search finds an article (link to PDF) stating that 94 cloture votes were taken by July 22, 2008 in the 2nd Session of the 110th Congress alone. It points out that because of the painless filibuster, issues like energy credits for alternative energy, “cap-and-trade” on limiting greenhouse gases, lower prescription prices for seniors, and assistance for victims of pay discrimination and, most tragically, an end to the needless deployment of troops in Iraq, were all blocked by the minority party. All issues supported by the majority in Congress, as well as the majority of America.

But one of the major reasons the Republicans have succeeded in using the filibuster to such great effect is because Senate leadership under Sen. Reid have allowed Republicans to have painless filibusters – filibusters where all Republican leadership needs to do is signal their intentions, and the Majority party rolls over and moves on to the next issue.

Imagine if Republicans were forced to, y’know, actually filibuster – stand on the Senate floor and defend their blocking strategy, preventing passage of legislation supported by the majority of voters, as well as a majority of Congress. Imagine that. That, alone, would limit the number of cloture votes needed by the minority party. And that, alone, would allow more beneficial and needed issues to be addressed.

It’s not that more Democratic Senators are needed to prevent filibusters.

It’s obvious that what is needed is Democratic leadership to act like leaders.

I thought that Sen. Reid was a fighter. It appears he’s lost his nerve, at least to me.

I have donated to the DSCC in the past, but now I donate my time, money and energy to specific Senatorial candidates who show the determination to fight for the betterment of all and the preservation of our Constitution.

DSCC gets not one more dime from me until the Democratic caucus learns to fight.