What can be done to fix the crippled U.S. Senate? Former deputy chief of staff to Senator Harry Reid, Adam Jentleson is the public affairs director at Democracy Forward, and author of "KILL SWITCH: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy." In this book, he combines his behind-the-scenes experience with historical research to map out the institution’s decline from a great deliberative body to the nexus of partisan gridlock.
This trajectory, Jentleson argues, can be traced back to the early twentieth century and southern senators fighting to protect Jim Crow; they honed a procedural tool to empower, for the first time in American history, a minority of senators to systematically block bills favored by the majority. That procedural tool was the filibuster. In the past several decades, the Senate – through the filibuster and entrenched party loyalties – has become a kill switch that cuts off broad-based solutions and shuts down our democratic process.
In this interview, Jentleson shares his sincere belief that our democracy is healthiest when both parties compete to win the support of a majority of the nation.