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Avoiding public debate on major issues

Two of the enduring myths in American politics is that there is deep animosity between the two major parties and that the US Senate is the greatest deliberating body in the world. But as Glenn Greenwald points out, backroom bipartisanship is the norm when it comes to serving the interests of the one-party state, such as extending the USA Patriot Act. Public debates are either largely symbolic where the outcome has been pre-determined or involve issues that are not important to the pro-war/pro-business one party that rules this country. The idea of having a genuine debate on an important issue in which the outcome is not pre-determined is viewed with horror by the leadership of both parties.

The extent to which the Senate goes out of its way to avoid discussing major legislation in public is described well in this letter in response to the Greenwald post, in which Senator Rand Paul describes how little work is done by the Senate and how hard it is to get the Senate to debate important issues, such as war. The method of choice to prevent a debate on anything is what is known as a ‘fake quorum call’.

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