Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Obama Calls out "Shameful" Senate Filibuster

It’s not often that I have much praise for the President.  But in his furious if controlled remarks this afternoon following the Senate filibuster of background check legislation, he did an excellent job of combining passion with reason as he laid out the case for the legislation undermined by the Republican Party, and expressed his dismay that a comparatively modest measure, supported by 90% of the public, would be killed by the Senate minority.

I encourage you to listen to his full remarks, which simultaneously explain the importance of the legislation while also answering many of the ill-informed criticisms levelled at it by people who take the NRA and its Congressional henchmen ad their word...which is not, as this episode shows, worth all that much.

That a minority in the Senate would be so bold and arrogant as to scuttle a measure with wide and deep support from across the public says something profound about the power of special interests.  These Senators—they were nearly all Republican, although a few craven Democrats joined their ranks to counterbalance those praiseworthy Republican Senators who bucked the NRA—are clearly not worried about the views of their constituents.  I suspect that they feel bolstered against public ire by one of two things.

Either they believe that the NRA will be willing to spend enough on their re-election bids to enable them to re-write history and drown out the memory of their actions through the disbursement of cold, hard cash, or they know that the revolving door in D.C. will ensure that should they be defeated, the weapons industry—like its pharmaceutical, armaments, financial, agricultural, and energy counterparts—will look after them.

The corruption of Citizens United (“corporations are people, and money is free speech”) combined with an already pernicious lobbying structure, makes a mockery of our democracy, and shows that it is perfectly possible for our politics, through the manipulation of an undemocratic, prehistoric chamber, and the influx of corporate cash, to behave with utter disdain for the public welfare. 

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