Jun 4, 2021 • 53M

Volts podcast: Adam Jentleson on how to make the US Senate work

A former Senate aide talks filibuster, Manchin, and breaking the current gridlock.

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David Roberts
Volts is a podcast about leaving fossil fuels behind. I've been reporting on and explaining clean-energy topics for almost 20 years, and I love talking to politicians, analysts, innovators, and activists about the latest progress in the world's most important fight. (Volts is entirely subscriber-supported. Sign up!)
Episode details

Long-time readers know that I am a veteran hater of the US Senate, the graveyard of good ideas and progressive policies. America’s upper chamber is one of the world’s least productive and most ridiculous legislative bodies, its dysfunctions matched only by its boundless self-regard. Don’t get me started.

Instead, get Adam Jentleson started! Now there’s a guy who has earned his ire at the Senate. As a senior aide to Democratic leader Harry Reid from 2011 to 2016, Jentleson saw up close and personal how the institution’s antiquated rules (especially the filibuster) can be weaponized against reformers.

He shared what he learned in a book that came out earlier this year: Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy.

I didn’t want to have Jentleson rehash the book — it has been favorably reviewed and he has been on every podcast under the sun to discuss it — but I was quite interested in his thoughts on the current Senate standoff.

Are Democrats going to let the filibuster prevent them from keeping their promises, improving people’s lives, and getting reelected … again? Are they going to allow a small handful of conservative Democratic senators to squelch a once-in-a-decade chance at legislating … again? Can that still be prevented, and if so, how?

Basically, I asked him to explain Joe Manchin to me. Enjoy.