The United States Senate is stalled. A minority of Senators threatens to filibuster. Legislation is killed.
I am old enough to remember when filibusters actually required filibustering. That is, when a filibuster took place, Senators had to actually show up to do it. Trudging bleary eyed, sometimes in their pajamas, they would trundle forward for a roll call so that the process could go on. But now that is a thing of the past. Today all the minority has to do is say, "filibuster," and it is as if the process had taken place,
I am reminded of the Star Trek episode, "Taste of Armageddon," where the Enterprise encounters a civilization that is at war, but instead of using real weapons, they fight using computer simulations. However, there are casualties, as each side puts those who would have been killed, had it been a real attack, into disintegration chambers.
Finally, when the Enterprise and its crew are declared "dead" in the computer simulation, Captain Kirk can stand it no longer, and with phasers, they destroy the computer, and the whole game starts to unravel.
ANAN: You realize what you have done?
KIRK: Yes, I do. I've given you back the horrors of war. The Vendikans now assume that you've broken your agreement and that you're preparing to wage real war with real weapons. They'll want do the same. Only the next attack they launch will do a lot more than count up numbers in a computer. They'll destroy cities, devastate your planet. You of course will want to retaliate. If I were you, I'd start making bombs. Yes, Councilman, you have a real war on your hands. You can either wage it with real weapons, or you might consider an alternative. Put an end to it. Make peace.
ANAN: There can be no peace. Don't you see? We've admitted it to ourselves. We're a killer species. It's instinctive. It's the same with you. Your General Order Twenty Four.
KIRK: All right. It's instinctive. But the instinct can be fought. We're human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands, but we can stop it. We can admit that we're killers, but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes. Knowing that we won't kill today. Contact Vendikar. I think you'll find that they're just as terrified, appalled, horrified as you are, that they'll do anything to avoid the alternative I've given you. Peace or utter destruction. It's up to you.
Today the Senate does not put people, but legislation into disintegration chambers, all in the name of a filibuster that never takes place.
At it too long, the Senators who meekly acquiesce to killing legislation in a legislative simulation have lost their nerve.
Where's Captain Kirk when you need him?