Senate Filibuster: A Blight on American Democracy

On news that Senate Republicans are promising to block Obama’s appointments, Bruce Johnson writes:

I wonder if the Republicans will get really intransigent and try to block WHOEVER Obama names to the Supreme Court just on general principles. If they do, it’ll be interesting if the Dems exercise the “nuclear option” they despised so much when the GOP threatened it. I’d love to see a nuclear option, period.

The filibuster is the biggest blight on American “democracy.” And it makes me sick when Senators, including liberal Democrats, wax sentimental about how it is “what makes the Senate unique” and that it has historically made the Senate what it is. Yeah, right – maybe that’s true, but nothing to be proud of – the basic role the filibuster played in American history was to ensure a period of 90 years when no civil rights laws were passed, despite the desperate need for them. The sooner the filibuster goes, the better.

And Evan Bayh, with due respect, is WRONG when he says that without the filibuster, we’d “have two Houses of Representatives.” The Senate is fundamentally different because Senators represent States, and their constituencies aren’t population based. They also aren’t subject to gerrymandering, which means they tend not to be one-party, so that Senators have to appeal to independents and voters from the other party.

Besides, part of the point of having 2 houses was simply to have 2 – it doesn’t really matter who takes the 2nd look at a law, so long as someone does. But I don’t hold my breath. I was reading books when I was 13 (“Citadel” was the title of 1) of how the entrenched institutional conservatism of the Senate was the chief roadblock to meaningful progressive reform in the USA.

And I expect my great-grandchildren will be reading similar books 90 years from now. Funny that the British have had more luck reforming the House of Lords than we’re ever likely to have reforming the Senate.

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