Abolish the Filibuster!

Abolish the Filibuster!

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Brendan Tewksbury started this petition to U.S. Senate

          A filibuster is an action such as a prolonged speech that obstructs progress in a legislative assembly while not technically contravening the required procedures. We have seen this in parliament and congress throughout history. On October 6th, 1917, one of the longest filibusters took place. Republican Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin launched a filibuster. The topic up for debate was if the Senate should approve the House-approved legislation to arm merchant ships because of the German submarine attacks. This rattled senators because they were concerned about entering World War I. The dozens of people in the room that agreed with his tactic allowed him to talk throughout the day until 9:30 am on March 4th. This was completely unnecessary and did nothing for the passing of the legislation. One of the more recent filibusters occurred on June 15th, 2016, when Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut launched a filibuster to change the laws of gun violence. He said that he would stay on the floor as long as necessary to get the changing of gun laws passed, after the Orlando shooting and the Sandy Hook shootings.

         If reluctant to sign, look at the actions of the government in history. As described, Woodrow Wilson, suffered from the effects of the filibuster when pushing to arm merchant ships in World War 1. Our former president then said it “rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible” and persuaded the Senate to adopt Rule 22. This measure allowed a supermajority of the senate to vote for “cloture,” or closure to debate, giving the matter 30 final hours. However, Rule 22 was wildly ineffective even after the degree of senate majority required was lessened, for it was very difficult to achieve. Similarly, when Barack Obama stalled his nominations for executive and judicial branches. Yes, this was a good tactic to get his voice to be heard, but he surely could have done more with his power. He could have pushed to abolish the filibuster with his power in the government.

           Therefore, it is urgent our society lobbies to abolish the filibuster. Governments under Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama have ineffectively attempted to address the issues created by it, and political parties have expressed similar discontentment throughout history. It is time to properly mitigate the filibuster. One of the many solutions is to simply institute time constraints like the House of Representatives, where debate is often limited to 40 minutes. Not even limits on the entire senatorial debate, but to individual speaking time of senators, would dissolve this disgrace in our federal government. It has been a long time coming... so sign this petition to join the ranks in support of finally abolishing the filibuster and improving our democracy.

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