This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Dear Senate Majority Leader, you are letting the public down. We, the People need you to get things done but everything is being blocked by a minority. The public doesn’t understand that everything is being filibustered, so they are not applying the pressure that could break the tactic. That is your fault, not theirs: you have to show them. You owe it to the public, in the name of democracy, to let them know what is going on. There is a clear way to do that: Roll out the cots!
The country has so many things wrong that need fixing. A majority of the Congress, elected to make changes, is trying to get things moving for the people, but a corporate-sponsored minority is blocking almost everything. Their strategy is to frustrate the public and they count on misinformation to confuse people as to who is responsible for the logjam. As a result the public doesn’t see that there is a strategy of pure obstruction at work here.
The obstructionists have help in spreading the confusion. Newspaper stories rarely use the word “filibuster.” Many in the media tell the public that Senate rules require 60 votes to pass bills. Other stories blame “partisan bickering” for the lack of progress. So the public blames “both sides” because they don’t know what is really going on.
But you are helping spread the confusion too. You are not drawing a clear contrast and repeating it. You are not telling a simple story in a clear, understandable way. It is not getting through to the public that the hated filibuster is being used over and over. You need to put on a show that breaks through the haze and informs the public. There is a way to do that: roll out the cots! The public gets that. They associate cots with filibusters. It is theater but the public needs to have the information and without the theater – yes, the circus – of rolling out the cots again and again and again, the public is, in effect, having that information withheld from them.
Ever since the movie, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” the public has believed that a filibuster is about Senators staying up all night, talking. If that is what they believe, then that is what you have to give them. You have a responsibility to democracy to find ways to break through the media filter and help the public to understand what is really going on. You need to roll out the cots, and do it again and again, until the point is made with the public that what is going on is not the normal operation of the Senate, but instead is pure obstruction, used as a strategy to prevent the public from getting what they need, to demoralize them and keep them from voting.
Look what happened in April when you did roll out the cots! The cots were only part way down the hall when the obstructors held up their hands in surrender! That was a clue, Harry!
A Senator might (probably would) say, “But Senate Rules don’t recognize the circumstances unless there is an amendment to an amendment that meets a motion from the designated parliamentarian over the division of the rule to the committee and the amendment amends the amdenment to amend, and we have to suspend the rule by consent to amend the amendment before the amendment can be amended.”
I would respond, “ROLL OUT THE COTS.” Roll out the cots every single time they try to filibuster. Every single day. Cots. Cots. Cots. Park a truck out front of the Capital, filled with cots, and every time any Senator starts to say “No” workers should be starting to unpack the cots from the truck.
After a while the public will get it. You owe it to them to do this. Roll out the cots.
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