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February 18, 2011

WI Dems Show Right Way To Filibuster

-- by Dave Johnson

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.


In Wisconsin the Governor and Republican majority are trying to strip state employees of the right to collective bargaining. The are literally trying to "ram through" in a very short time, out of nowhere, a bill that removes employee rights.

The Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate had one recourse: just leave. There are not enough members of the Wisconsin Senate to hold a vote if none of the Democrats are there, so in a dramatic move they left the state. And it is making news.

This short post by Thers at Atrios' Eschaton blog sums it up:

Hey, remember how for the past couple of years the Republicans routinely and shamelessly and without precedent used a parliamentary gimmick to enforce a non-Constitutional supermajority in the United States Senate?

Keep in mind those shenanigans whenever you're told that the Wisconsin State Senate Democrats are opposed to "democracy."

Exactly right. This is how it should be done. The Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature are engaged in a delaying action to give the public a chance to express their opinions on how this should proceed. This is what a filibuster is supposed to do. It is not supposed to be an easy, silent "parliamentary procedure" that lets a minority just block everything, as Washington Republicans have been doing. It is supposed to be rare, dramatic, a show, something to rouse public interest, giving the public a chance to weigh in.

In the post Filibuster: Make Them Talk

Making them talk would be good for democracy, because the public will be able to see that a dramatic event is taking place. Just as in the movie, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, the public will have a chance to rise in support of the effort, or let Senators know they oppose it.

Making them talk all night gives the public an opportunity to rally, one way or the other. It also, frankly, puts on a show, which will engage the public, restoring interest in government. This is good and we should do it.

Unlike so many in Washington, Wisconsin Democrats are showing they have a spine. They are showing that they understand democracy and how public opinion can be moved. They are showing us all how to stand up for ourselves!

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Posted by Dave Johnson at February 18, 2011 3:45 PM


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