Melissa Harris-Perry | December 02, 2012
>>> you can call what i'm doing today whatever you want . you can call it a filibuster, a very long speech. i'm not here to set any great records or to make a spectacle. i am simply here today to take as long as i can to explain to the american people the fact that we have got to do a lot better than this agreement provides.
>> that was vermont senator bernie sanders about two years ago. he was speaking up, speaking up, speaking up. at that point in protest against president obama 's 2010 proposed tax deals compromise with the congressional republicans. technically, it wasn't an actual filibuster because he wasn't preventing republicans from speaking and doing business . he did go on for 8 hours and 37 minutes. no words on whether he used the sauna to dehydrate himself. i remember bernie sanders doing this and my twitter feed going nuts with enthusiasm after two years of saying we should get rid of the filibuster. then it was like go bernie, go bernie, go. i thought, we like it when it's our guy doing it.
>> that's where we get the distinction. when i say filibuster, i'm knot talking about holding the floor. that's great. he had eight hours to get his point across. now the filibuster is i'm going to send an e-mail to mr. mcconnell, it's going to take 60 now. then you don't have that debate. you block it at the outset. we don't have that discussion.
>> so it's changed.
>> is that the reform that matters? i want to point out, there was another time when progressives got excited. that was in the wisconsin walkout. this wasn't a filibuster in terms of reading the phone book . when the wisconsin lawmakers walked out and in fact took asylum in another state. i mean, again, enthusiasm for this idea of using the rules of the game in order to push the legislative effort. i guess it goes back in part to what was being said. this is the rule of the game. the question is which political parties are able to make use of the existing rules or is it as dorian was saying --
>> you can't like in the middle of the game, you get this. people want to wipe the chips. it's unfair. you have to almost ask why they're doing this. there's so much more at stake after this election. there's so much on the plate of americans right now. yet, some things are done procedurally, historically. it's like why right now? why this? why right now?
>> kind of why we're -- if somebody works at a nonpartisan organization, i don't care who is in power. i want government to work and move things forward and have some progress rather than another two years of absolute.
>> and utter stalemate.
>> i was at an event at the museum in washington. with michael en.
>> i'm sorry.
>> he said that you guys didn't do too well. you lost two seats in the senate. he says i don't care. two numbers that matter. we have more than 40. and we can stop absolutely whatever we want.
>> that's no good.
>> that's how --
>> he's not elected. he's not going to be making an eight-hour speech about it.
>> one other quick point of clarification. we talk about how the filibuster was intended as x,y z. you go back to the rule books , they were the same between the house and the senate, you can end on a majority vote . he comes along in 1806 and says we're a body of gentlemen and we shall change the rules and we can respectfully end debate and we don't need this messy rule book . it took about 100 years before we started to have filibusters and woodrow wilson in 1917 said the senate is a group of willful men who have made the united states helpless and contempt i believe. we need a way to end debate. up is down and down is up. we don't have debate. we don't start a debate. we've finally gone to the courts to say, yes, the senate can make its own rules but they're not unlimited. they're constrained by the constitution. one way is this is how you pass a bill.
>> can you send me a coffee mug with that woodrow wilson quote.
>> this contemptible group of little men.
>> republicans would argue that there have been instances whereas being in the minority, they have been, should utilize whether democrats or republicans, for example the jobs act and then senator harry reid essentially stripped away gop bipartisan provisions that would have helped small businesses and those unemployed to get them pack to work. obama care is another one.
>> i think it is worth asking the question about being careful -- even beyond whether it's good or bad, being careful about changing the rules when you're in the majority. you should always assume in a country like this, you're going to be in the minority again. we're not in a place where any party is going to dominate.
>> there's another danger. i'm for filibuster reform, but this is not a quick fix. the democrats change the rules, instead of focusing on partying building instead of the 60 votes. in a democracy, the way that you know what people want is if they free and fair regular election.
>> this argument about when the democrats are what progressives that might be nervous. everybody has unclean hands in this process. at least we could return to talking about substance. when georgew bush wanted to privatize social security , he had a republican house, it didn't pass the republican house. it was not filibustered. it was unpopular because there's a debate about how unpopular it was.
>> that's good. it should require some effort. you should be out making your case. risking -- it should require some effort. not as you said. pushing a button or citing something.
>> when you debate, you need free and pharafaipharaoh owe steven and tara and raul, thank you for being here. dorian going to hang out a little bit. i'm going to talk with dorian about the fast food walkout just the other day. don't call it a comeback. labor has been here for years. i was