'Give Me Liberty—Oops, Unless I Can't Break a Filibuster'

A reader visiting Richmond sends this report:

While here I took the opportunity to attend the weekly re-enactment of the Second Virginia Congress of 1775 at which Patrick Henry offered up his choice of liberty or death. It's actually not a bad piece of theatre, and offers an accessible insight into the political options of the time.

But we were told that the final vote on the proposal being considered- creating a militia for defense of Virginia against any future British threats- passed by only four or five votes; and it then occurred to me that if we had had the filibuster in colonial times, Patrick Henry would never have had the opportunity to utter his immortal words.  

It just seems to me that there's a jingoistic, American-flag-draped approach to denouncing the Republican anti-American use of the filibuster.  Maybe Karl Rove will craft it when the next Republican president takes office...

That last prediction is very shrewd.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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