The juxtaposition could not be any more poetic -- less than a week after some of my neighbors received their furlough notices, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was going into his twelfth hour filibustering the Senate confirmation of John Brennan as director of the CIA.
It was not the filibustering that gave me pause -- that is a hackneyed practice in Congress. Nor was it the object of Sen. Paul's filibustering that irked me. It was the stark contrast between adults the likes of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (who, in using some of Paul's time, quoted Jay-Z) wasting away hours of the Congressional Record, and my neighbors who are seeing their wages shrink. One week ago, Congress had chosen to recess in the face of the sequestration, but is now keeping its lights on to allow a seemingly indefatigable Sen. Paul and company discuss pop culture in the name of defending civil liberties against Brennan's controversial decisions regarding unmanned drone use.
Any lesson in Government 101 would remind you that a filibuster ends only after a successful vote of cloture, or when the employer of the filibuster leaves the room (and given Sen. Rand's rate of water consumption that evening, it was a miracle he made it that long). My anger is not predicated on the egregiously lengthy duration of the filibuster. Instead, it is based on the frustration evoked by one pervasive question:
Isn't there something wrong with our accepted political practices when our paradigm is that which permits the regular use of heinously drawn-out filibusters but inhibits the successful passage of measures that curb the impact of sequestration?
More simply, does it make sense that Americans are losing pay while loquacious senators are passing time?
I think that answering either of these questions would be insulting your intelligence.
It is now that we need to pass our time seriously. This sort of behavior is not only unnecessary, but also just downright deleterious. Do we really want people like Sen. Paul populating our halls of power?
If so, C-SPAN might be your new source of entertainment. If not, then let's reflect our justified fury in e-mails, calls, letters and votes.
It is shameful to watch my neighbors suffer at the cost of political quibble. Let's exercise our power to change the accepted norms of Congress.