McConnell Needs to Go in 2014

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” –Senator Mitch McConnell, 23 October 2010

With this statement, Senator McConnell rewrote his own job description from that of a United States Senator representing the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, to a hard-nosed ideologue intent on a solitary goal of ending another man’s political career.

Two years and hundreds of filibusters later, the President wins his bid for reelection, by a landslide.

What does Senator “one-term” McConnell have to say about that?

“The American people did two things: they gave President Obama a second chance to fix the problems that even he admits he failed to solve during his first four years in office, and they preserved Republican control of the House of Representatives,” McConnell said in a statement. “The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the President’s first term, they have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington after two years of one-party control.” –Senator McConnell

You see what he did there? Senator McConnell is pretending that the record number of filibusters he and his party orchestrated, even on legislation that they agreed with, is a personal failure of President Barack Obama.

The lack of productivity in the Senate for the past four years is a failure of Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party, not President Barack Obama.

Take a look at this handy chart, that lays out exactly who has filibustered in the Senate the most, by number and by percentage. At the top of the chart? Republican after Republican, after Republican. If your Senators are on the top half of this list, you should be angry. Very angry.

Filibustering is refusing to debate. It is refusing to vote. It is refusing to allow anyone to debate or vote–per Senate rules, sixty Senators must vote to overrule a single, anonymous Senator who may filibuster a bill, then waltz out of the Chamber, off into the city. A filibuster, under current rules, does not require a Senator to hold the floor. It does not require that one, single Senator to even be in the building.

If one or both of your Senators are on the top half of this list, your hired representatives are refusing to do their jobs.

Just think a second: what would happen if you decided you left an anonymous note on your boss’ desk saying that you didn’t feel like working that day, then walked out? I’d be written up, docked points, and fired.

There hasn’t been balance in Congress since President Obama was elected in 2008, and that’s because the vast majority of the Republican Party has been refusing to do their jobs.

Mitch McConnell is the orchestrator of this collective tantrum, and as a resident of Kentucky, I am angry. Rand Paul, my other Senator, has refused to work over eighty percent of his short time in the Capital. I am very angry. My state has no voice in the Senate. None. Kentucky’s representatives in the Senate anonymously protest, then run off into the city to do whatever it is old white men do in Washington D.C.

Kentucky, we have two more years until Mitch McConnell is up for reelection. And you know what? I’m angry enough that I’d consider running against him myself–but I don’t meet the minimum age requirement, and I won’t meet it in two years, either. So to anyone considering running against Mitch in 2014? Consider this as my letter of interest.

Get Your Activism On: Reform the Filibuster

Early in December, I wrote about Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and his efforts to reform the Senate’s rules on filibustering. Today an editorial appeared in the New York Times on this issue. The new Senate will vote on these changes on Wednesday. It is important that these changes be made–not for self-serving Democrats, or self-serving Republicans, or anything of the like. These changes must be made for the good of the people.

For the last two years we have witnessed the most egregious use of the filibuster in the history of the Senate. Every piece of legislation was filibustered by the GOP, whether or not they agreed with it. Legislation took weeks and months to pass, and the Republicans weren’t quiet about their motives–they wanted to make President Obama look inept. To some, I’m sure they succeeded. But to others, they only succeeded in holding up important legislation for brownie points at the cost of the credibility of the Senate and the good of the American people.

The proposal is short and simple. The highlights are in the NYT editorial. The full proposal is here. Take a look at it if you haven’t–the Senate will vote on Wednesday, and it will only take a simple majority vote to pass. The proposal is about transparency, demanding effort and accountability of the Senators who wish to hold up the work of the Senate, and limits on what they may do.

As before, contact your Senator and urge them to vote for this change.

Get Your Activism On: Changing the Rules.

The other night, Rachel Maddow, on her show, addressed the rules and regulations for filibuster in the United States Senate. Currently, it only requires one Senator to filibuster, and that Senator does not have to remain on the Senate floor, or even in the Senate chamber. He or she can filibuster, then go off to dinner and home for the week, delaying any vote on a piece of legislation. I believe this is important to highlight—not just because the Republicans have filibustered any legislation that has come across their table in the past two years, but because procedurally, this does not make sense.

Senators were elected to do a job. They are being paid, by our tax dollars, to do a job—represent our voice in the chamber, and by passing legislation that the country needs to be passed, or not passed, as the case may be. We do not pay them to stand up and say “I don’t want to vote on this, I’m going to block this vote, and go home to sit on my butt.”

Rachel had Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon on her show. He is trying to change these rules. Not only to keep the Senate running and thereby ensuring the Senators are doing the job we are paying them to do, but to force Senators who do want to filibuster to remain on the floor. To keep individual Senators accountable, so that the public may see who exactly is holding up the Senate’s work, and who is actually doing the job we are paying them to do. After all, we elect no one to do nothing—we elect them to do something—to pass legislation, or not. We elect our representatives to VOTE. Whether that be to vote for or to vote against something, we elect them to do something. That something is not holding up the Senate and all the important business it has to attend to.

Read the whole of Senator Merkley’s proposal to change Senate procedures on filibuster here. Contact your Senator to encourage them to help Merkley, and to vote to change the procedure. Find your Senator and his/her contact information here. If you have time, contact Senator Merkley to thank him for undertaking this effort, and encourage him to continue fighting for this change.

I thought, like I’m sure many others did, that Senators had to be in the chamber, at the very least, to initiate and continue a filibuster. That the current Minority Party has been doing nothing but filibustering, even on legislation that they agree with, has angered me. But now, knowing that they don’t even have to expel any effort to hold up the Senate? I’m even angrier. I have to wonder, had this issue been brought up before the midterms, and the Majority party made a big deal of it, (that is, that Senators don’t have to be present to continue a filibuster) would the midterms have turned out differently? We’ll never know, but it’s something to note. Anyway! Read the proposal! Contact your Senator! It would only take a simple majority to change the rules!