Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nature's Filibuster

We have lots of names for what's going on in D.C. right now -- snowpocalypse, snowmageddon, snowverkill. As I've been sitting here at home, trying to entertain myself with mail from last week and watching my husband dig snow out of our skylight before it crashes into our bathroom, I've been wondering why this feeling of being trapped and, dare I say it, "gridlocked" seems familiar...

Now, I'm not as clever as the people that come up with the names for storms (thanks Fox News, for "Blizzard of 2010", that took quite a lot of creativity), but I can say what this series of storms reminds me of.

It reminds me of the U.S. Senate.

How's that now? I'm glad you asked. I've got three main reasons.
  • First, there's the wind gusts of 65 miles per hour, which some Senators reach on a daily basis.
  • Second, the white out conditions in DC (literally can't see my backyard) seem to reflect the shocking lack of diversity in the U.S. Senate.
  • Third, and most important, there's the filibuster rule, which allows any Senator, through the mere threat that he or she might debate a legislative initiative to death, to bring the business of the Senate to a grinding halt. Without the 60 votes needed to invoke "cloture" (i.e., the ability to limit debate), Democrats in the Senate will be even more unable to move their legislative initiatives through the process. Kind of like how no one in DC can venture past their front yard.
Of course, some people think that's a good thing (the lack of legislative progress, I mean, not the being trapped in our house), and perhaps this storm is evidence that Mother Nature agrees. On the other hand, maybe this is her way of saying "Enough. Everyone needs a time out."

I suggest that everyone in the political world take a minute to take advantage of our time out, get away from the partisanship and sniping, retire to our respective corners for a little while and see if we can find a better way to move forward. This better way will need to depend less on the "I'll hold my breath until you let me have what I want" approach of the Republicans or the "You'll do what I say because I say so" approach of the Democrats. Perhaps we can even be civil to one another.

Or perhaps I've just been trapped inside for too long.

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