THE BLOG
04/21/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

NFL Football Inspires A Resolution For The Filibuster Nightmare

As it stands, and after much debate, the Instant Replay Rule allows NFL coaches to challenge rulings on the field twice per game. The NFL rules committee, quite reasonably, limited the number of challenges a coach could make in consideration of how unlimited challenges might affect the tempo of play. An obnoxious coach [fill in your favorite] might challenge every call and in doing that intimidate the referees, not to mention making viewers change channels to something more stimulating, say Sesame Street. Games might last for days, like Cricket. Totally unacceptable for the instant gratification audiences of America.

Congress, long ago, adopted the filibuster without thinking it through, or at least without anticipating, as the NFL did, that the practitioners of the Senate might stoop to disrupting the game indefinitely in order to intimidate and punish the referees, in the Senate's case the public.

There are sound Constitutional reasons for filibuster. All power vested in one individual or one party or one body of government is the state of governance that the Constitution was drafted to specifically prohibit. It is, or should be considered as such, the instrument of last resort to uphold the interest of a minority. It is a hurdle by which the public is made aware of and can make a determination on the merits of an argument, in theory anyway. In our political history, there have been instances of egregious abuse of the prerogative, but never a blanket abuse such as we have seen in the recent past. The filibuster has been used, not to make a stand on an issue, the purpose for which it was intended, but to disable government and discredit government at a time when government is at its most needed by a struggling public. To compare what is happening in the Senate to a renegade NFL coach using Instant Replay to annoy, stall and intimidate and thus co-opt the outcome is not over stating it.

Were the public a little sharper, they would scrutinize the Senate as mercilessly as they do football.

Bringing me to my conclusion and modest proposal. Both sides of the Senatorial isle are loathe to give up the filibuster because it serves the purpose of limiting extremes in the opposition's agenda. In light of recent abuses, both sides might be able to agree that limiting the power to limit will enable the game to be played without the omnipresent threat of a challenge to every play. The NFL had foresight not to trust. The Senate relied on the integrity of the members of the body. Change the Senate rules to limit the number of filibusters that are allowed to the minority on a bill/issue. The kind of proceeding that can be subject to filibuster is already limited. It will alter political strategy, but strategy will then, properly, be based on the outcomes for the electorate rather than effectively stealing the football and hiding in the men's room toilet. It will not allow deadlock of government over non-controversial business, a practice that is now on the verge of becoming a permanent aspect of the nation's business.

If the NFL can get it right, why can't the Senate?

Did I mention the delay of game penalty?