Opinion: Filibusters do nothing

Julie Selby

Julie Selby

Julie Selby is a freshman journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

You come home from school, and Mom asks you about your day. Just as you inhale to recount earlier events, your little brother begins an in-depth analysis about how he glued his hand to his foot, glancing at you now and again with an evil grin. Soon enough, you walk away a little disheartened. Sorry, friend. You just got filibustered by a five-year-old.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., recently made headlines over his epic 13-hour-long filibuster on March 6. Filibustering is talking out a bill or, in this case, having Paul gab all day to prevent the nomination of John Brennan to director of the CIA. Paul mainly talked to get his point across that President Obama having the power to kill any American via drone without a trial is a violation of the Fifth Amendment. We grasped that fact within the first ten minutes, Rand.

Through his valiant effort, Paul meant well to the American people by speaking up for what is right. However, the fact that he rambled just to prevent the vote for Brennan was unnecessary. After making references to “Alice in Wonderland,” Jane Fonda and even pressing, “Are you going to drop a hellfire missile on those at Kent State?” the main idea that stuck to the people listening to his filibuster is that some reforms need to be done within the CIA. Paul knew he would not prevent the vote. So why prolong the inevitable?

The centuries-old act of filibustering is just delaying what Congress can get done, which, based on the 2012 reports, isn’t much. Although filibustering only happens on an average of once a year, the fact that the power even exists shows how our Congress is just beating around the bush. If someone is going to oppose a bill, then by all means, tell us why. However, it is never necessary to waste thirteen hours of precious time to repeat the point over and over again.

Because filibustering has been on the rise since the Watergate scandal, it is worrisome that the only way to stop this disposal of time is through a process called cloture. The process is long and daunting, starting with the signature of 16 senators on a petition to end the filibuster. The petition is ignored for a full day. Then the senators vote on agreeing to the cloture. Three-fifths of the votes are needed to instate the cloture. In the end, it gives any senator one hour to speak on the subject at hand. In other words, more time is wasted.

Keep in mind, I am not a politics major. I am a college student with the weight of the world’s problems resting on my shoulders. While I am well aware of North Korea’s threats, global warming and murder in the Middle East, a roomful of old white guys are bickering about infinitesimal (and inescapable) occurrences.