Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sanders speaks for the people

Technically it wasn't a filibuster since there was no business of the Senate pending on the floor but in reading the reactions around the interwebs, Brian Beutler echoes my thought:
It's a filibuster as filibusters were originally intended -- and, as such, makes a mockery of what the filibuster's become: a gimmick that allows a minority of senators to quietly impose supermajority requirements on any piece of legislation.
Indeed, this is the simplest fix of any for the fillibuster, short of abolishing it altogether. A mere threat to endlessly continue the debate shouldn't be enough. Senators who so cutely block the normal up or down votes need to be required to make their case, in words, on the floor. I'm certain it would cut back tremendously on its use as a weapon of mass obstruction.

Easy to make the threat, but not so easy to do the deed. Sanders spoke for eight hours and thirty five minutes, nearly non-stop. Word has it he was clearly exhausted at the end. And as Steve Benen points out, Sanders' motives were pure:
He took to the floor yesterday, not because some lobbyist handed him talking points, not because he wants to be on television, not because he's driven by some personal ambition, but because he cares deeply about working families, and intends to fight to do what he can to help them.
He wasn't there just to run the clock. The Caucus has a clip of Sanders' opening remarks and some quotes like this:
Mr. Sanders also dismissed assertions that the tax cut deal was worthwhile because it will keep jobless benefits flowing to the long-term unemployed, saying that assistance should have been approved regardless of what happened to the Bush-era rates. β€œLet me be very clear,” he said. β€œIn the midst of a serious and major recession, at a time when millions of our fellow Americans are out of work, through no fault of their own, but they have been out of work for a very, very long time, it would be, in my view, immoral and wrong to turn our backs on those workers.”
If only this argument had been made so dramatically months ago, we wouldn't be fighting over this stupid tax steal now.

Karoli has a clip of Sanders speaking of childhood poverty and rightly notes this speech, if nothing else, put the facts into the public record and maybe even planted it into the minds of those who don't normally pay enough attention.

And if you have eight hours and thirty minutes to spend, you can watch Sanders entire speech here in the CSPAN archives.

All I have to add at the moment is my applause and much thanks to Senator Sanders for a job well done. One hopes everyone inside and outside the Beltway learns something from this.

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Anonymous Ruth said...

He's admirable for many things, and this is one more addition to a distinguished record. I kept CSpan on throughout, although admittedly didn't listen the whole time.

1:55:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I wish I had been able to see it live. Feel like I missed a bit of history in the making. But I'm so glad he did it and grateful to have CSPAN archives so it can be preserved for posterity.

8:19:00 PM  

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