• Election 2012: Debating the Filibuster

A Discussion with Rich Arenberg and Pam Wilmot

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Poetry Center, 3rd floor Sawyer Library
73 Tremont St

Rich Arenberg and others engage in a lively discussion about the role of the filibuster in American politics, as we celebrate the publication of Arenberg's new book: Defending the Filibuster: The Soul of the Senate. Arenberg is a lecturer in the Suffolk University Government Department and will be teaching a course this Spring 2012 on Congress.

Richard A. Arenberg served on Capitol Hill for 34 years in senior Congressional staff positions, as a Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for Majority Leader George Mitchell, and Senators Paul Tsongas and Carl Levin. He is currently an Lecturer in Government at Suffolk University and an adjunct lecturer in Public Policy & American Institutions at Brown University's Taubman Center and at Northeastern University.

Pam Wilmot is executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts. Pam has been an advocate for government reform and consumer and environmental issues for over 20 years. She is a frequent commentator on Massachusetts public affairs.

Sponsored by the Government Department.

What people have to say about Defending the Filibuster: The Soul of the Senate:

"While I am not a fan of the filibuster, this is probably the most thoughtful treatment of the subject ever written and well worth pondering even for those of us who think it is profoundly undemocratic. A must read for any student of the Congressional process." —Gov. Michael Dukakis, Former Democratic presidential candidate

"To anyone who knows and loves the Senate, and to anyone who wants to know more about American politics and history, this book is a joy to read. Two of the most respected people to work in the Senate over the past several decades have teamed up to write a book about the filibuster, but not just a memoir or a rigid defense of the practice. Rich Arenbergand Bob Dove provide fascinating history, much of it new to me, insightful examples from their own service, and reasoned arguments in clear language. Every reformer, including those who want to eliminate the filibuster entirely, and those who want to change it to fit the times, owes it to himself or herself to read this book and ponder theauthors' message. If it doesn't make you stop and think through your own assumptions again, the problem lies with you and not in this excellent book." —Norman Ornstein, co-author of “It’s Even Worse than It Looks” and “The Broken Branch”

"Regardless of whether you agree with [the authors'] conclusions, the book will be a must read for anyone who wants to be a part of the debate about how to improve the function of the Senate." —Roll Call

“We recommend this book to all who care deeply about American political institutions. Robert Dove is a former parliamentarian, whose decades in the Senate chambers cemented his bona fides as a keeper of the rules. Richard Arenberg has spent 30 years in the thick of history, procedure, and protocol in the Senate as a venerated advisor. Their collective experience and observations have been distilled here in a clear exposition of one of the staples that define the Senate, and it is well worth the read for any student of this deliberative body. With its wisdom, we are confident that America and its elected leaders--out of the frustrations of some and the stubbornness of others--will eventually find their way toward the next great compromises that will keep America moving forward to its ever-brighter future.” ---Senators Mark Udall and Ted Kaufman (in the Foreword)

"In this excellent volume, two extraordinarily qualified Senate veterans explain and defend, with clarity and impressive research, the Senate filibuster. With their deep understanding of, and respect for, the institution of the Senate, they point to the need to protect minority rights and to build consensus—and they propose evolutionary reforms to reduce filibuster abuse. This book deserves to be read and considered carefully by all who respect, and want to understand better, the world’s greatest deliberative body." —Lee H. Hamilton, former US Representative; Director, the Center on Congress at Indiana University

"An historically grounded and eloquent defense of the Senate's tradition of protecting minority views by allowing extended debate until sixty Senators vote to end it." —Senator Carl Levin

"During my years in the Senate, I learned that you should never get involved in a legislative fight without Bob Dove's advice on counsel. Nobody knows more about the rules and history of the Senate than he does. Defending the Filibuster: Soul of the Senateshould be required reading for anyone who wants to understand one of the hallmarks of our democracy." — Senator Bob Dole, former Republican presidential candidate

Back to Events Listing »