Let’s call this what it is: the United States Senate, that previously great deliberative body of great distinction has fallen so low it cannot muster a vote to break a cowardly filibuster to bring a bill calling for background checks on all guns sales co-sponsored by one Democrat and one Republican in true bipartisan fashion and that already has 54 of all the 100 Senators supporting the bill to the floor for an actual vote on the bill itself.
Yesterday’s travesty of a fully dysfunctional U.S. Senate, unresponsive to the pleas of over 90 percent of the wishes of American people, refused to bring the Gun Background Check Bill to an actual vote is now known to us all.
Yesterday’s shameful display of unresponsiveness to the real needs of human beings who live in the United States was not even the real vote on the bill: it was a vote to overcome a Senate Filibuster. We must ask Senators why this bill was filibustered in the first place. Let’s have a vote. Americans know where they stand. Do you?
Previously, the filibuster had a long and proud history in the Senate. It was truly the stuff of Frank Capra’s 1939 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, where a minority of Senators who need to delay legislation that is going to pass can stop the Senate from acting and bring to the attention of the American people some great injustice or even in its most negative terms to prolong injustice long enough for Americans to see that great wrong.
But the Senate has voted to change the rules regarding filibusters. Now you do not need to even stand manfully or womanfully on the Senate floor and speak against a piece of legislation to block legislating activity that is much needed by the people for their government to take action. You merely call up the Senate majority leader’s office on the phone and say you are Filibustering a piece of legislation and so then the entire Senate has to fight to get to a vote to break that phoned in Filibuster via a single representative.
How many votes are needed to break a Filibuster? Sixty votes. If the vote was to be on an Amendment to the Constitution itself, or to remove a President from office, or to approve a treaty of far reaching importance with another nation only six more votes would be required.
In practice now Filibusters are used as a matter of routine. A bill that is not filibustered is rare indeed. So instead of 51 votes, 60 votes are needed now to pass all legislation. We may as well make the Filibuster something automatic and raise the level of all legislation to the two thirds majority support level of only select bills.
In point of fact, one of the chief defects of the old Articles of Confederation that was replaced with our present Constitution was that routine legislation required a 2/3 majority to pass and amendments to the flawed articles required a unanimous vote.
Try this experiment at your next large gathering. Ask people what pizza they would insist upon ordering by the entire group if only one type of pizza (this representing a bill in one form before the Senate) could be ordered.
You will find that there will be no majority support for any type of pizza. The senate gun background check bill already has majority support—even more than for a single type of pizza ordered for a party! That ought to be enough to bring it to a vote.
What failed yesterday was in fact not the actual vote on the bill and its merits or flaws, but a refusal to even bring that bill to a vote. That’s how bad it got on the Senate floor yesterday.
Given that ninety percent of Americans (as much as 93% in one poll) know what kind of legislative pizza they want to order concerning gun background checks it should sound and feel absurd that our Senate could not even agree to vote on the citizen’s request for this legislation.
It is like getting 93 out of a 100 people at a party to all agree they want cheese and anchovy pizza. When has that ever happened? Are pigs flying past your window?
Who does our government serve? That was one of the President’s questions yesterday. It is the main one to be known and answered. Does the Senate represent and serve the broad mass of the American citizenry, those ninety-three percent who favor this bill and so want it to be voted on at least and presumably pass with such unprecedented support?
No, the cowards could not do it. They work for a small minority who threaten them with electoral defeat in the next election and who must sell more weapons to Americans and reap greater profits as the death toll rises from gun violence nationwide.
Every single day 88 Americans die by guns. They killed at least 88 more Americans yesterday. They might have saved a few or even more as the legislation took hold.
It’s obvious that when legislative bills have majority support they can and sometimes should be filibustered. You never know if a flaw exists that might need exposing first before a vote is taken. But not always. And not when a bill has bipartisan support in the Senate via its co-sponsors and such broad public support and is so needed for the public safety.
And most importantly not when pigs fly past our windows and it reaches 100 degrees in April in Wisconsin and 93 out of 100 American citizens say this is what they want their Government to do for them.
The failure of the U.S. Senate to break that Filibuster yesterday was a cowardly display of a government body that has become dysfunctional.
Harry Reid should NEVER have permitted the current over-permissive Filibuster rule to remain. We must go back to the days when Senators must have the courage of their convictions and must do more than simply make a routine phone call to block the will of the American people. They should have to remain standing and speak without stopping to tell us why we cannot do what the people have told them they most want their Government to act upon.
For in the end, we are now filibustering the exercise of our very democracy itself.