Tag Archives: filibuster

Get the Boot!

19 Jan

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Filibuster: The English term “filibuster” derives from the Spanish filibustero, itself deriving originally from the Dutch vrijbuiter, meaning “privateer, pirate, or robber”. It is also the root of the English word Freebooter.

The use of the filibuster in the American Senate was a tactic used to delay or prevent the passage of legislation, usually opposed by a minority of members. In years past, real filibusters rarely happened since they required opposition senators to go to the effort of standing on their feet and speaking continuously for hours on end. Only the most intense and dedicated opposition would mount filibusters.

However, the “traditional” filibuster custom was significantly changed only a few years ago to allow senators to “filibuster” without actually speaking and consuming their own time. That would be equivalent to you not having to go to work and do your job but still being able to say that you worked so you can collect your paycheck. And imagine if you, the workers, were able to decide on creating this rule yourselves without having to consult your bosses?!

Of course as one would expect this new “silent filibuster” is just way too convenient. Why should anyone go to work then if only ten Senators (workers) can sign a piece of paper and then the object of their wrath (the job) requires a 60% supermajority to pass. So, since all 100 senators now know that there are not enough senators (workers) to pass the legislation (do the job) then no one really needs to show up for work!

By eliminating the cost of filibustering, this new and ingenious rule has effectively undermined majority rule, a cornerstone of our constitutional republic and the definition of a “working Senate” itself… Now all the minority needs to do (in many cases just 1 disgruntled Senator (worker) to prevent a bill from even reaching the floor is simply to threaten to filibuster. Debate never begins. Real filibusters almost never take place. And this of course is cleverly and ironically called a “silent” filibuster, an oxymoron if there ever was one, kind of like “no-show job” or “unemployment pay” or “Welfare queen”  wouldn’t you say?

If a worker’s union came up with this ingenious tactic to help its workers avoid work and still demand their pay no doubt the government and the taxpayers would move to either disband the union or call out the national guard to have them arrested and thrown in jail.

“Sorry boss but we all can’t work today because Joey here doesn’t like what you’ve asked us to do.”

How appropriate! The American Senate once one of the most august legislative bodies in the world  has managed to transform itself into a non-functioning band of lazy, do-nothing pirates of panache! privateers of personality! robber barons of democracy! and by the very definition of the word that describes their most favorite and new and improved way to get their jobs done… freebooters!

If only “We the People” could really give them the boot!

Joanna Funk

piano accompanist and teacher

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