Gosh, I hate to say "told you so", but:
Republicans wouldn't fill the time reading recipes or from the phone book They have large staffs, and an nation full of professional and amateur conservative wordsmiths. They would have plenty of material to use.And:
In the old days, Senators engaged in a filibuster would read recipes or otherwise stray off topic. No need for that now! Not only do Senators have large staffs who could produce content, but there's a whole big internet available. If I were advising the GOP in that situation, I'd tell them to let conservative bloggers know that they can have their big chance for immortality: post something good, and a Republican Senator will read it on the floor of the Senate....Excellent way to rev up the conservative blogosphere, no? Meanwhile, by forcing Republicans to perform a "real" filibuster, Democrats would transform a 24 hour network that millions of Americans get in their homes into a 24 hour Republican propaganda outlet. How is that possibly good for the Democrats?Both written in response to liberals who thought Republicans would somehow be humiliated by having to hold the floor with "live" filibusters.
Now, do any liberals think that Sanders is humiliating their side of the argument? I very much doubt it. He is, of course, not reading recipes or reading from the phone book. He's been staying on topic, more or less, giving a lengthy defense of his ideas about government and policy and how, in his view, the tax deal undermines policies he favors. Indeed, as I've listened on and off today, he's read from Ariana Huffington and quoted Bruce Bartlett -- just as I predicted! Well, sort of. The real question is: does anyone doubt that a dozen Senators could keep this going, with more or less the same quality of rhetoric, indefinitely?
(And it's worth noting: Sanders isn't actually filibustering, and he wants to talk; that's the whole point. If a group wanted to keep a filibuster going but needed a break, they could do a quorum call that would allow them to rest until the majority could produce enough Senators on the Senate floor. Under current rules and practices, it's easy to keep a filibuster going).
Whatever one thinks of majoritarian democracy, and whatever one thinks of various proposals for filibuster reform or elimination in the future, I hope everyone gets that under current rules, there is absolutely no advantage to the majority to force a minority larger than one or two Senators to engage in a "live" filibuster. There is simply no point in doing it.