Have you been following the Twitter debate among Members of Congress over whose filibuster was a bigger deal: Texas State Senator Wendy Davis's (D) effort to block a bill limiting women's reproductive rights or Texas's junior U.S. Senator Ted Cruz's (R) 21-hour effort to defund Obamacare? They say that everything is bigger in Texas. In this case, the claim that Ted Cruz's filibuster was a bigger deal than Wendy Davis's is a big lie.
Cruz didn't filibuster anything. He held the floor for only 21 hours because that was as long as he was allowed to hold it. That is not a filibuster. A filibuster is when a senator holds the floor indefinitely to stop a vote, as Wendy Davis did when she held the floor until the legislative session expired and no more votes were allowed. Cruz spoke until the scheduled end of debate, upon which the Senate Majority Leader proceeded to move forward with the vote as pre-determined.
But that is probably too subtle a distinction for many Americans to understand. In fact, much of how the Senate works is too complicated for almost anyone to understand.
Trying to explain how the Senate works to the public leads to comments like John Kerry's (D) ill-fated "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." In other words, he voted for the bill in an earlier, more important procedural vote and then voted against it in a later, less important vote. That's right... impossible to understand.
Such subtlety is difficult, at best, to convey in 140 characters. But fear not, in the case of Davis v. Cruz, GOP lawmakers have chosen to ignore the subtlety of using the correct definition of filibuster in favor of simply lying. After all, the people won't realize they are lying and those trying to explain that it is a lie are unlikely to be able to do it in 140 characters.
Here is my attempt... in haiku form:
Davis protects rights
In a real filibuster
Cruz just wastes a day
All that in just 64 characters (check out @HaikuProgress for more haiku tweets about politics and advocacy).
Social Advocacy & Politics is a weekly, exclusive column for Social Media Today by Alan Rosenblatt that explores the intersection of politics and social media. Look for the next installment next Tuesday morning.