BY BILL FERRIS
Are your students confused about filibusters and filibuster reform? Is that the most exciting lead sentence you’ve heard all year? If you answered “yes” to both questions, you should visit Filibustery (and get out more).
Filibustery is a multimedia project created by journalist Josh Kalven, formerly of Media Matters for America and Progress Illinois. Kalven bills Filibustery as, “a website launched in January 2011 with the goal of making the filibuster — and the proposals in the U.S. Senate to reform it — more understandable.”
As Kalven points out in the initial Filibustery video, most people associate the filibuster with an heroic James Steward in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, breaking out his coffee thermos and taking a stand on an important issue for hours on end. However, the tactic has increasingly been used as a routine tactic to defeat both large and small legislation, usually without ever employing the marathon, live-debate stage most people are familiar with. It’s a much more complicated process than I realized, but Kalven explains it with plain talk and helpful illustrations. Filibustery would be a helpful tool for a civics course talking about congressional procedure, or for anyone who wants a closer look at how the sausage gets made in Washington.