By Tim Suttle
There are two simple steps our nation’s representatives could take which would drastically change for the better the way the U.S. Government works. These two steps would curtail some of the paralyzing gridlock, force the governing process out into the open, and require ideas, legislation, and politicians to stand on the merits of their arguments.
The two steps are: 1) End the Senate Filibuster and Anonymous Hold; 2) Ban Corporate Political Donations.
End the Filibuster and Anonymous Holds – The Filibuster is used to keep legislation from coming to a vote on the Senate floor. The current rules require 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, but that could change tomorrow or the next day. If it doesn’t we’re stuck with this asinine rule for another cycle. The anonymous hold is another crazy idea that allows a senator to block any legislation anonymously, so that it never leaves committee.
You can read a pretty good article on Politico today which explains all of the various ideas on the table right now to curtail the filibuster. If just one of these ideas moves forward the Senate can get moving again. Bills will no longer die a silent death at the threat of a filibuster or hold. More bills will leave committees and more will get a straight up and down vote in the chambers. This means there will be less political wrangling and more actual work done. Bills will die in public, not in private, and politicians will have to stand behind their voting record instead of hiding behind anonymous holds and filibusters.
The end of the filibuster can happen on the first day of the new session (which Reid is currently extending for a couple of days). The decision is really up to Majority leader. You can contact his Washington office by calling this number: 202-224-3542. If you call, please be respectful, tell them you would like to recommend that the leader put in place one of the plans to end the Senate filibuster rules.
Ban Corporate Political Donations – When our children’s children talk about the current era in politics, they will not talk about our first black president; they will not talk about Defense of Marriage, gridlock, or high taxes. The single most revolutionary event for the U.S. Government in our time is the Supreme Court Case Citizen’s United, which has allowed unlimited cash to flow into the coffers of politicians from corporations and unions. There are now no limits on donations from corporations to politicians. Companies and unions can legally buy votes.
Should this be permissible? The fool gets the right answer to this question before the constitutional scholar. In some polls as high as 80% of those surveyed oppose this ruling. Banning unlimited corporate and union political donations could be the single most revolutionary action our government could take. Lobbyists should no longer be allowed to buy votes. Corporations should have to argue for legislation on the merits of their ideas, not with the influence of a fat checkbook. Corporations are not people, and they certainly should not have more power than actual people. But as things currently stand, corporations and unions can literally buy influence. It needs to end. We need a ban on corporate political donations.