Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 51- Filibusted

Dear Mr. President,

Senator Evan Bayh's op-ed this morning makes several excellent points. Many of his complaints about the frustration process of getting anything done in the Senate echo sentiments from The Audacity of Hope, which, to me, indicates strongly that the Senate is a dysfunctional institution, as you and Senator Bayh wrote from positions the minority and majority, while reaching the same conclusions.

Especially with regards to re-thinking the rules surrounding the filibuster, I think Senator Bayh's ideas have a lot of merit and should be implemented. It is sad, really, that he had to retire, to go out without worrying about re-election and to cause enough of a media uproar to be heard. He seems like an honorable, well-intentioned individual, and the Senate would be better off with more like him.

As a former Senator, you understand the frustration of the institution first hand. You did not spare the Senate any of your disapproval during the State of The Union, and I would have liked to believe that might have generated more progress than it has. I don't think it is unreasonably partisan of me to say that the right benefits most from this. On principle, be they in the minority or the majority, the GOP wins elections by campaigning against the federal government, against "big" government. Holding up the progress in the Senate supports their narrative that federal powers are slow, clumsy and ineffective.

In his 1996 State of the Union address, President Clinton famously declared "the era of big government is over." I think this may have pleased a number of people, but it helped few. Perhaps if the era of the self-serving government, the ego-boosting, money-raising, hyper-partisan government, if the era of bad government could be drawn to a close, real progress could finally be made.

Respectfully yours,


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