Sunday, October 17, 2010

Time To Change the US Senate to Simple Majority Rule

It is time to end the filibuster. And secret holds. And every other rule of the Senate that allows anything less than 50 Senators block the Senate from acting.

I'm not saying this because it is the GOP who is currently in the minority, though it does provide illustration of why this is needed.

Were our government not so disfunctional and our political parties not so unevenly matched, it would not be such an issue. I see some value in letting a minority put the brakes on the minority. But we are way beyond any valid use of that power now.

The problem is, the minority powers of the Senate ALWAYS favor the GOP and do nothing for the Democrats. Here's why.

First, the Senate is already mismatched because of lots of low-population, deep red states that give two guaranteed Senators to the GOP. So the GOP already gets more Senators than its actual population would entitle it to. (They do the same in the House, with gerrymandering - something the GOP is also much better at doing than Dems).

Second, while some might be upset about losing this power when the Democrats are in the minority, I'd ask - Why? It is not like they ever really used it. When Bush was president (the moron Bush), the Dems basically caved in to everything he wanted anyway. They filibustered almost nothing. They never put secret holds that stuck. They didn't do diddly. But when the GOP is in the minority, on the other hand, they filibuster every fucking bill there is, whether they actually agree with it or not, just to keep the Democrats from accomplishing anything. They set massive new records for filibustering in just the past two years. So clearly, the filibuster is a power that only benefits the GOP. The Democrats never stick together well enough to ever use it anyway, so getting rid of it will lose them nothing. On the other hand, it will cost the GOP plenty.

Third, tied in to the second reason are the reasons behind it - the right-wing leaning media. If Dems try to block anything, Fox Noise is all over it, the rest of the media picks it up, and the Dems predicably fold like a lawnchair. When the GOP wants to block something, Harry Reid finds out about it in advance, and then instead of forcing an actual filibuster or making it a media blitz issue, he just gives up in advance and doesn't even bother to try to bring the bill to a vote.

So lets get rid of the minority-rule crap in the Senate. It only helps the GOP and hurts the Democrats. In the long run, it will be better for the Democrats to get rid of it, because at some point they may get a decent majority again, 55+ votes, and then they may actually get something done. Though I wouldn't hold my breath. At least this would remove a few more tools of power from the smug GOP assholes.

One last point - if there had been no filibuster, a lot of awfully good people would have been confirmed and in office right now. People like Dawn Johnson, who would have been the head of the Office of Legal Counsel - it is a national tragedy that she did not get confirmed. Of course, Obama could have done a recess appointment, but he's too much of a pussy to do that. Or maybe he never really was behind her anyway. Ugh. Another reason to be depressed.