Calling Sen. Leahy

To the Editor:

Twelve widely diverse residents of Equinox Village gather every Friday morning to discuss what is going on in the world. Last November we found rare unanimity in concern over paralysis in the U.S. Senate caused by unprecedented use of the filibuster by Republicans to block anything the administration proposes. This has effectively barred debate, substituted minority rule for majority rule, and left serious national problems unaddressed.

We decided to ask our Vermont senators to try to do something about this disgrace. I wrote to Sen. Patrick Leahy on behalf of our group on Nov. 24, 2012, excerpts from which follow. (My neighbor, Col. Jerry Carr, wrote along similar lines to Sen. Bernie Sanders.)

" We share a deep concern about the extreme abuse of the filibuster by a Republican party which now seems to be led by people who don't believe in physics, mathematics and biology, and who are willing to use the filibuster as a narrow political weapon, to the detriment of the nation as a whole. (I was a lifelong Republican until these people made being a Republican a source of embarrassment.)

"Over recent years Sen. McConnell has used the threat of the filibuster to paralyze the Senate hundreds of times. He has said openly that his goal is to stop anything that President Obama tries to accomplish (including things that Republicans have previously supported.)

" We think such extreme destructive partisanship is without precedent, and ask if you, as a responsible Senator with seniority, will be willing to lead an effort to rescind the Senate's filibuster rule, or at least amend it so that it can only be used in extremis, and so those who use it must actually go through the degrading ritual of empty oration around the clock.

" We know that historically both parties have wanted to have the filibuster when they are in the minority, but surely there must be at least 50 senators who can see that abuse of the filibuster has made the Senate a subject of public ridicule and an impediment to constructive action."

We have never received an acknowledgment, much less a meaningful reply from Sen. Leahy. If you share our concern, please write, email or call Sen. Leahy. This is not the way represenative democracy is supposed to work.

Alex Hoffman Manchester


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