Wednesday, May 18, 2005


I sat in on a conference call with Harry Reid today, about the nuclear option. It's likely that the big showdown will be next Tuesday. Senators from the following states are especially interesting:

  • Arizona
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia
  • Maine
  • Nebraska
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Hampshire
  • Alaska (maybe)
If you live in one of those states, or know the senators from the state, you should call them. This isn't a political issue, it's an issue of fairness. The filibuster practically goes back to the founding of the republic. As I've discussed, it's an essential part of the aim the Founding Fathers had for the Senate. The Senate is where ideas are tested, refined and moderated. The filibuster doesn't require a supermajority, it requires that there not be some substantial and intense opposition to an idea. An idea can come to a vote and pass 51-50, as long as there are a few people who don't hate the bill badly enough.

It's an important issue, and you should work on it.

The really interesting thing he said, and I haven't seen it reported, was that lobbyists are putting a lot of pressure on senators.

If you belong to an industry with strong lobbying arm, you should talk to your representative. I'm sure that the Republican leadership is putting a lot of pressure on lobbyists to get them to lean on the swing votes.

If you are an NRA member, call their offices. If you work in an extractive industry, realty, or an other big industry, work your way through the channels. For the last 10 years, Republicans have been bending the lobbying firms to their will, and now they are reaping the benefits. Even non-political industries are probably being squeezed to pressure Senators. Lobbyists control huge amounts of cash, and it's a line of influence badly underused by progressives. This is a chance.

Many business groups are anti-nuclear option in public, as are many gun groups and environmental organizations. If they aren't leaning on their lobbyists to sing the same song, that could be a problem. So talk to the leadership of any groups you belong to. Check out professional organizations. You'd be surprised how many lobbyists probably work for you.