AirTalk for July 10, 2013

With filibusters, rules and polarization, is the American Senate a broken system?

"The American Senate: An Insider's History" by Neil MacNeil and Senate historian Richard Baker

Who holds the record for the longest filibuster? Which Senator won a seat with only $147 in expenditures? Which Senator almost beat a man to death with a cane on the Senate floor? Sometimes it seems like the Senate makes headlines for its antics than its legislation, but according to Senate historian Richard A. Baker, the Senate is so much more than fodder for trivia questions. Baker was appointed the Senate’s first official historian and served from 1975 to 2009.

In his new book co-authored with the late Neil MacNeil, “The American Senate: An Insider’s History;” Baker details how the Senate has changed over time. On one hand, Baker thinks it’s a very different Senate than what the framers of the Constitution had in mind. However, on the other hand, the Senate has maintained its purpose for being a place of “sober, second thought.”

Is the Senate too slow in passing legislation? Is it the consequence of a polarized electorate? What’s the history of the filibuster? What needs to change in the Senate? Richard Baker joins AirTalk to discuss the history of the Senate, his own frustrations with Senate rules and, of course, answer those trivia questions.   

Guest:
Richard A. Baker, co-author of “The American Senate: An Insider’s History;” appointed official Senate historian from 1975-2009


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