Abolish the US Senate, End the Filibuster
The glacial pace of our senate has never served to protect the interest of US citizens: a minority can prevent passage of important legislation. Such was the case with the bill to abolish the poll tax, that languished for 3 decades while a minority of senators fought it. In 1939, the House of Representatives passed the measure 254–84. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy was criticized for proposing the 24th amendment as an end run to prevent further delays, but it took little more than a year for ratification by the required votes of 38 state legislatures.
The filibuster alone is good enough reason to dispense with the Senate completely. The US House abolished the practice in 1842, even before the term "filibuster" was coined, and quashed similar manuevers by 1890, yet the the Senate continues to cling to a practice that is unique to this country. They have even made it easier to accomplish by relaxing the rules in favor of those who wish to stage a filibuster – all that is needed is for the oponents of a popular measure is to post notice. They don’t need to stay up all night and hold the floor like Mr. Smith in the Frank Capra film. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
"– the film premiered in Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., on October 17, 1939, sponsored by the National Press Club, an event to which 4000 guests were invited, including 45 senators – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was attacked by the Washington press, and politicians in the U.S. Congress, as anti-American and pro-Communist for its portrayal of corruption in the American government. While Capra claims in his autobiography that some senators walked out of the premiere, contemporary press accounts are unclear about whether this occurred or not, or whether senators yelled back at the screen during the film."
The Senate proved it could act in a timely manner by passing Senator Neely’s Anti-Block Booking Bill, which eventually led to the breakup of the studio-owned theater chains in the late 1940s, clearly intended as relatiation.
The film was released just as the Senate was burying the first of many attempts to ban the Poll Tax. One hundred years after the House eliminated the practice that became known as the filibuster, Tom Connally again staged a successful effort to stymie the 1942 attempt to repeal the so-called "tax". Senator Connally is famous for having led a filibuster to block an anti-lynching bill in 1937:
"…on the third day of the filibuster, impish Bennett Clark brought into the chamber a placard on which were mounted pictures of the two blowtorch lynchings at Duck Hill, Miss, this year."
Connally later helped forge the doomed foreign policy that divided Korea in 1945 (yes, 1945 not 1950), thus insuring the perpetual war that continues today throughout in South Asia.
It is interesting to note that Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was banned in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Soviet Russia and Falangist Spain.
Today, the US Senate continues to move in the wrong direction. The most notable filibusters have been staged for the benefit of landowning bigots and corporate oligarchs, like the filibuster in favor of preserving the Poll Tax – so descendants of slaves could continue to be disenfranchised in a country built with their sweat and blood. Yet senators move swiftly to insure trillions of dollars are spent on international warfare each year, thanks to the practice of allocating military expenditures through various government departments other than the DoD.
(for details, visit these links:
A more robust version of our current health care legislation could have been in effect for several decades already but for the efforts of our highly paid and well coifed Senators. Yet we have spent more than a trillion dollars in Afghanistan alone, and the indirect costs are even more staggering. This has been made possible by the dinosaur that is the US Senate.
Eliminating their haircuts alone will save us millions of dollars each year. They have literally hijacked Democracy, numerous times, because Filibuster has, over the years, become their guiding principle. And what does it mean?
"The term "filibuster" was first used in 1851. It was derived from the Spanish filibustero, which translates as "pirate" or "freebooter." This term had evolved from the French word flibustier, which itself evolved from the Dutch vrijbuiter (freebooter). This term was applied at the time to American adventurers, mostly from Southern states, who sought to overthrow the governments of Central American states. Later the term was applied to the users of the filibuster, which was viewed as a tactic for pirating or hijacking debate." (wikipedia)
Those of us who still have hope for change won’t find it in the US Senate. It is time to sweep them out of the way with the first of a series of new constitutional ammendments to restore and extend the rights of the common citizen.