The filibuster and majority rule

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 11/21/13

Well, at last the Democratic Senators showed some gumption (to use the polite term).

It’s not just about politics but about whether the government can function. The Senate sets its procedures and it can change them if they don’t work any more. They should have done this years ago. The filibuster isn’t sacred (for those who think that the constitution is, the filibuster isn’t there).

Or, the Dem senators could have offered a deal: the Senate would continue to require a 60% majority if the House did the same. Let’s see… 435 representatives X 60% = 261. The House currently has 232 R’s and 200 D’s (3 seats are vacant for now). What do you think about that grand bargain, Mr. Boehner? Ah, I didn’t think so.

So: the president wins the election, and he gets to appoint judges, cabinet officials, and other officials, that’s just the way it is. If we don’t believe in majority rule (with the obvious defenses of various sorts of minorities’ civil rights), our whole constitution may as well shut down.

Elected officials are there to make decisions. If a Senate majority votes to confirm a federal judge who turns out to be a total loser, it will be held against them (and their votes to confirm some of the current Supreme Court justices ought to be)–not on party lines, but on grounds of unsuitability for the office.

There are plenty of checks and balances built into our tripartite government without adding in a supermajority anywhere to gum up the system.

And finally: if we do believe in majority rule, we should abolish that absurd anti-majoritarian 18th-century relic, the Electoral College.

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Filed under Nathaniel Smith, US Senate

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