Congress today has an approval rating of 9%, the lowest of any Congress ever. Why? It's easy if your willing to look for the reasons outside of the Media, and what politicians tell you, you have only to look at the record. Congress has failed to do anything for the most part because of gridlock in both houses, the Senate and the House haven't been able to agree on much since before Clinton was elected, the last time they agreed on anything was during the last four years of George W. Bush's administration when TARP was passed along with the stimulus that bailed out the banks and AIG. The reason for the gridlock can be seen everyday by both the Republicans and the Democrats in both Houses, the party of my father, the Republicans, has become such a bane on our country that we cannot get anything done without coming to a sad and sorry moment when we almost go over a "Fiscal Cliff", or start blaming members of the other party for conspiracy's that don't exist. Well, here is something that will explain a large part of the problem.
Congressional Filibuster Record by Party 1992 - 2011
A filibuster by the majority senate can only be broken with 60 votes or a three-fifths majority. In 2010, Republican Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell stated, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president. (1)"
Republicans have executed 40% more filibusters since 1992, or nearly double the Democrat rate, in an effort to make the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress take the blame for not getting things done. While Tea Partiers claim to uphold the values of our Founding Fathers, it should be noted that the filibuster is not in the Constitution (2). The filibuster has been used with greater frequency since the 1970s, and practiced the most by Republicans over the past decade. In fact Tea Party favorite Rand Paul has voted for a Filibuster 79% of his 62 senatorial votes cast (3). Today the Republican actions make passing laws in the Senate into a 60 vote requirement (4), which has never been a constant in American governance until the past decade. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid states, “60 votes are required for just about everything” (4). The political fallout from over-use of the filibuster has been drastic. In 2007 - 2008, the single largest filibuster year on record with 139 Republican cloture motions filed, a Gallup Poll for Congress Approval Rating was only 23% - the lowest in over 20 years (5 ). Today's 112th Congress has an abysmal 9% approval rating - the lowest on record (6).
When America is engaged in a costly War in Afghanistan, over 9% unemployment, and an unsustainable budget deficit, it is immoral for the minority Republican party to block passage of most of the majority legislation while deceptively convincing the public that the Democratic party is incapable of solving America's problems. Statistically, between 1920 to 1970, filibusters averaged one a year, but between 2005 - 2008, there have averaged 70 filibusters per year (7).
Because of the 231 Republican filibusters since President Obama took office, roughly one of every eight federal judgeships remain vacant, and as of September 2010, more than 190 presidential nominees were awaiting confirmation (7). This obstructionism has caused a lack of oversight, efficiency, and intellectual resources required for a functioning government to manage America's complex institutions. A common falsehood made by Republicans is to call out that even with 60 Democrat votes in 2009, and a Democrat President, the Democrats could not pass their legislation. But the data shows that in 2009, Democrats only enjoyed a 60 seat majority for only a brief 72 days due to Ted Kennedy's hospitalization for a brain tumor which led to his death, while at the same time Republicans filed 137 filibuster motions, the second largest number in U.S. history.
The founding fathers realized the functional dangers of requiring a supermajority to approve any action under the Articles of Confederation, and sought to limit a supermajority power to allow Congress to act. Only in recent times has partanship politics shackled the ability of Congress to take action and brought one of our most important institutions into gridlocked dysfunction. The blame for this dysfunction is not equal. Of the top 50 Senators to cast Filibuster votes 30% or more of their total votes taken, 47 are Republicans and only 3 are Democrats (3).
At this political impasse the Tea Party Republicans should reflect on the wisdom of Founding Father, James Madison, "[Requiring a supermajority] would mean the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule; the power would be transferred to the minority." (7) - James Madison, Federalist Papers No. 58
Maybe the transfer of power to the minority is the Republican Congressional strategy, at the cost democracy.
In the time it has taken me to go from young middle age to old middle age we have seen something occur that never occured in the 200 plus years of our great country, until now, the undermining of our great experiment by the Tea Party and the Far Right extremists in their midst. The Filibuster was meant as a tool to be used by the minority party to prevent the subversion of our great democracy, but, in the hands of the Tea Party and the far Right it has become a tool of distruction and disfunction, preventing even the simplist things from getting passed in either house of Congress. The reason for the low approval rating of Congress is very simple to see if you chose to see it, no one of any sane mind wants to limit the rights of any American, however, we have members of Congress that wish to do just that, the House under the Republicans has tried to pass bills that would limit the rights of women, and other minority's in the country as well as the LGBT community on several occasions, all one needs to do is to go look at the record for the 112th Congress and you will see it for yourself. Also, Republicans have Filibustered a record number of times in the Senate, including filibustering their own bills on more than one occasion, the latest Filibuster being that of Mitch McConnell when he Filibustered his own bill on the Senate floor.
For anyone with any sense of country, or any sense of humanity it is clear, this group of Republicans must be dealt a defeat in as many elections as possible to get them out of our government, both federal and state. I feel the desruction of the Filibuster is the aim of the minority party in Congress at this time, the Republicans use it like a Crack addict with a warehouse full of Crack, they have gotten so use to using the Filibuster they don't know when to stop and really get some work done, unless it is to try to pass bills that they know won't pass any sane Congress.