Last night on The Rachel Maddow Show, Maddow proposed that we need to find a new word for “something that is both catastrophically important to the future of the United States and totally freaking boring,” something that “speaks directly to whether government is capable of actually governing.” She was referring to the filibuster, which is threatening to freeze up the U.S. Senate to such a degree that nothing will ever get done, ever again. And at The Filibuster Challenge at Maddow’s site, people are proposing that we rename the filibuster the “billblocker” or call it a “hung Senate,” both of which are good ideas.
But simply renaming a process doesn’t go far enough.
Obviously, American audiences these days love contention, violence, humiliation, and the opportunity to vote anyone off an island or a team or out of a house or a job. Obviously, what we must do is turn the federal legislative process into a game show… and I think it’s safe to say that it would be the ultimate reality program, with the future of the nation hanging in the balance.
The doings of the House of Representatives and Senate are already televised, on C-SPAN. I propose we move them to prime time on a broadcast network, with a celebrity panel offering live commentary on the speeches, votes, and other procedures, and grilling the politicians on their bills. Senator Reverend Billy Bob McRighteous from the great state of Jesusland wants to make it illegal for women to cut their hair? His proposal will have to survive the votes of the millions of viewers. Senator Boring O’Dullsville from the great state of Overeducated Eastern Liberality wants to give the unwashed mass single-payer universal health care? He sure as hell better be able to sell it to the viewers in an entertaining way. All corporate donations to any elected official will have to be voted up or down by viewers… after the CEOs of the donating companies, in exciting battle challenges, reveal precisely what they expect to get in return for their millions.
It surely could not be any worse than the way things are now.
I see Senatorial Idol getting huge ratings on Monday nights on NBC, and So You Think You’re Smarter Than a Congressman? the new big hit Wednesdays on ABC after Lost.
Your suggestions? How do we fix what’s wrong with American politics?
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