Musings on The Filibuster

The Senate is a political organism we are all familiar with; it looms over the US government, casting its long shadow into every function of the state–except the ones that matter (e.g. torture). It is nearly omnipotent, weighing in on all matter from the next supreme court justice to the activities of private citizens. It commands from above forging a path for nations to follow.

However, recently the Senate has got a fair amount of flak for its chronic indecisiveness and overall lack of function, despite having a great amount of self-anointed purpose. While there are a wide range of causes for the bogged down Senate, today the focus will be on the Filibuster.

The Filibuster is–was rather–a unique parliamentarian rule that allowed a single Senator (see “old man”) to bring the entire operation to a screeching halt. He would rise from his seat, pat the dust from his anterior, roll his shoulders back as to assure their function, clear the dust–accumulated from his silence on matters of grave importance–from his throat and begin a soliloquy in such a magnitude that Shakespeare would be humbled. The contents of his pontification were usually and unfortunately less saturated with humor of a sexual nature, a true shame as this would do wonders to C-span viewership, but alas politics is only as sexy as they make it.

As this great statesman spoke his esteemed colleagues gradually lost interest. He stood alone, a lone monolith against the tyranny of the opposition. The matters at hand were not often germane, perhaps a letter from a constituent, or a favorite passage from a novel, rarely was the content substantive or the rhetoric moving. The slow passage was the only correction on the oration. The great pity of this moment should not be lost through the medium of the screen. More importantly perhaps is the abuse sustained by the bladder throughout these long hours.

Now the filibuster has been so adulterated and maligned from the honorable roots. It lacks substance beyond the word itself. Gone are the days when it required physical and mental resilience. It is a word for cowards now, devoid of action or conviction beyond the token opposition to the opposition, a political dance, a scar to deliberation.

Part of legislating is a commitment to compromise, while this subject is not explicitly relevant to the subject, the connection is deeper and clearer at a second glance. The heart of the filibuster is the message that, I the senator, believe so devoutly and so passionately that I am willing to sacrifice the comforts of my ill-begotten status to speak against a bill. Through that action he had the ability to affect change, at his expense. Now that it has lost all physical and mental requirements it has lost its voice. Now it is tossed around like syphilis in a brothel, to be expected. In this sense it has harmed the ability of both sides to affect change within congress.

What we have lost is not only rambling old men, but compromise and trust in our institutions. This is not to say that the filibuster has brought that about, but rather that it is a fraction of the cause. It exemplifies a greater issue. How can we expect to change anything that ails society when the agent of change is incapacitated by its own incapability to function decisively. What is needed is a great renewal of not only the political institutions that infect our society, but a restructuring of society that places the agency of the masses in the hands. The customs established hundreds of years ago must be reexamined, not patently discarded, but examined through the lens of our contemporary reality and the effects they have on a broken society. We preach a radical empiricism of sorts, an consequential philosophy applied to society at large, political utilitarianism. What is clear is that all potency has been sucked from our public institutions by a panoply of lecherous individuals and organizations. The gilded age has returned, the capitalist system conniving against proletarian sustenance, the callous apathetic to your plight.

The filibuster can only be the start. Tomorrow the world.

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