Scrap Anarchic Senate Filibuster Rules
November 20, 2010
(ChattahBox Op/Ed) – Filibustero a Spanish word meaning “freebooter” or “pirate. This word evolved into Filibuster in English. Pirate is an apt description for what the GOP has done with Senate the last two years. On virtually every issue brought before the Senate the Republicorpians have threatened to “filibuster” in order to kill the bill. And it worked virtually ever single time. As we head into the next congressional term, the squishy soft Dems are finally talking “filibuster reform.
But why? Why change a rule that was introduced into the Senate to prevent one party from running over the other party? With a filibuster any one Senator can basically shutdown the Senate’s work, i.e. passing legislation, confirming Presidential appointees, assisting in the ratifying of international treaties, etc. Now the Dems could’ve forced them to actually filibuster, which would’ve forced the Republicorpians to explain their absurd position, but apparently the Dems left their spines at home before moving to Washington. One way to overcome a filibuster is to have a super majority of US Senators (60) to be on your side of the vote. So to maintain a filibuster it takes as little as 41 Senators which theoretically could represent only 12.2% of the population. Remember each state gets two Senators. So, states with a very small population can hold the 87.8% of us hostage. Does this seem right to you?
It seems absurd to me that the minority can prevent the majority from getting the people’s work done. There’s no such rule in the House it’s only in the Senate. As for the reason that it’s an attempt to reign in the majorities’ power that’s bull pucky for several reasons. First is the obvious, that’s what having a majority means. It means one side has more votes, therefore if united they get their way. Secondly, the very fact that each state only gets two Senators regardless of their size means there’s a built in system of power management. A conservative state like Wyoming with more rednecks than people (actually never been there, I’m sure they’re nice folk) has the same number of Senators as a huge progressive state like California. There’s your majority limiting device right there.
We don’t need archaic rules like the Senate has now. We need rules that allows the will of people to become law. So, what happens if the Republicorpians ever regain the Senate? First off, the Senate will enact laws based upon their majority. For you and I, the sane progressive American who wants what’s best for this country, it will suck because those who voted Democratic will be deemed corporate property and sold to the health care industry for medical testing. Hopefully, by then we’ll have a Supreme Court made up with Democratic appointees who will put a stop to the “McCain/Boehner Free Health Care for Democrats Act”. But that’s the risk we have to take to make the Senate a productive part of our government.
The rules should not be changed because the Dems hold a slight majority in the Senate. The rules should be changed because they defy reason and they defy the spirit of a democratic republic. While it’s true that it’s possible that the GOP may retake the Senate in 2012 and we’ll wish the old rules were in place, the Dems should still push on to change them. Either we have majority rule in our country or we anarchy which is what we witnessed these last two years.