Huffpost Politics
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Don Parker Headshot

The Day Joe Biden Saved Democracy From the Pirates of the Senatorial Sea

Posted: Updated:

[Note: In the years ahead, history will record whether this story was a wishful fable or a milestone in American democracy.]

Sit and listen, my children. I'll tell you a wonderful story. A tale of dark times when ruthless Pirates roamed the Senatorial Sea, hijacked America, and prevented the people from gaining health care, financial protection, and jobs.

Until A Guy Named Joe stepped up and saved America. He vanquished the Pirates with the rule of law, by reading the Constitution aloud to the Senate, wielding his gavel, and declaring their anti-democratic rules unconstitutional.

It was 2010, only a year after America had inaugurated as president a visionary leader named Barack Obama of YesWeCanica to lead us out of the abyss of unwise wars and financial disaster, created by the infamous George the Younger, and his evil puppetmaster, Darth Cheney, and rubber-stamped by Republican Senators.

"But who were these pirates? And what was the Senatorial Sea?"

Well, kids, in the 1850s, some rogue Americans mounted wars to overthrow nations in Central America and the Caribbean Sea. They wanted to restore slavery in those nations and maintain it in the South. The people who eventually drove them out called them filibusteros, the Spanish word for pirates.

Back in Washington at the same time, Southern senators employed a rarely used rule to thwart democracy and perpetuate slavery in America. To honor the filibusteros, they called this legislative device the "filibuster."

A century and a half later, Republican Pirates in the Senate used the filibuster rule daily to prevent Obama and the Democratic majorities in Congress from governing, preventing any repairs to the sinking ship of state.

George, Darth, and the Pirates were owned by the unscrupulous Barons of Wallstreetlandia, who were allowed to rape, loot, and pillage the economy, and steal the people's savings.

"But who was This Guy Named Joe who saved us?"

His name was Joe Biden. Just a regular guy like you and me. But this regular guy became a senator and then vice president. He served with President Obama and presided over the Senate.

Now, unlike the Pirates, Joe had actually read the United States Constitution. And a Supreme Court ruling.

And as vice president he realized he held a tool even mightier than the Pirates's filibuster sword.

You see, kids, Joe wielded The Gavel.

At that time, 41 Pirates were filibustering to prevent health care for America. And during those same days, a senator known as The Buffoon of Bunning had prevented the Senate from transacting any other business.

"There is no filibuster in the Constitution," Joe declared from his presiding chair. "It's only in the Senate rules. They made it up."

And here's the fun part, kids. Joe read part of the Constitution to the Pirates. Then he read part of the Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Ballin.

"The constitution provides that 'a majority of each [house] shall constitute a quorum to do business.' In other words, when a majority are present the house is in a position to do business. Its capacity to transact business is then established, created by the mere presence of a majority, and does not depend upon the disposition or assent or action of any single member or fraction of the majority present. All that the constitution requires is the presence of a majority, and when that majority are present the power of the house arises."

"Therefore, as presiding officer" Joe said, "I hereby declare that when a majority of the Senate is present they may transact any business, including passing bills or changing rules. Nothing less than a majority may block action. Any rule that would allow otherwise is now, and forevermore, Null and Void."

One of the Pirates called out, "In the name of Jimmy Stewart -- and Strom Thurmond -- we must save the sacred filibuster."

But under his breath he muttered, "And in the name of corporations -- big insurance, big oil, big banks -- and the bribes they give me called 'campaign' contributions."

But a majority of the Senate then voted to confirm Joe's ruling.

"To be clear," Joe said, "this means no filibuster rule requiring 60 votes to cut off debate and call for the vote. No rule requiring 67 votes to change a rule. No rule that allows rules changes only at the beginning of a session. And, certainly no rule that allows one senator to place a hold on a nominee or a bill. And no action requires unanimous consent."

Pirates and lobbyists fumed and grumbled. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But, kids, from that moment forward, the United States Senate began to transact its business according to the Constitution. No more filibusters and no more holds. The government governed in the people's interests.

And, as you know, America lived happily ever after.