Friday, March 26, 2010

Majority Rule -- What a Concept

Here's a radical idea -- why don't we (a) hold elections, (b) let our elected representatives adopt laws by majority vote, and (c) let the people show whether they like the results by voting in the next election?

The past week has shown just how different our government could be if we used this simple system, which might be called "democracy." So long as the Senate is not tied down by the absurd, anti-democratic filibuster rule, Congress can actually accomplish big things, and what's more, it can accomplish them quickly. The House of Representatives passed a series of fixes to the health care reform bill, the Senate (by a healthy 56-43 majority) adopted them with just a couple of tiny changes, and the House agreed to the changes -- all within a week!

The minority party got its say. In the Senate, the Republicans proposed 41 amendments, all of which got a vote. They all lost, but guess what, when you're in the minority, and you propose things the majority doesn't want, you are likely to lose.

It was democracy in action. Just imagine what our government could be like if the Senate could act by simple majority vote all the time. Health care reform could have been passed months ago. All those ugly political payoffs -- the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase (some of which were removed by the fix bill) -- would have been unnecessary. Congress could have done what was best instead of having to produce a legislative package held together with Scotch tape and bubble gum.

And health care reform is just one of the many things that would probably have been accomplished already. Financial reform, improved regulation of the industries that nearly destroyed our national economy and had to be bailed out to the tune of $1 trillion in taxpayer money, consumer financial protection, protection against global climate change -- all these could probably have been accomplished, or be near completion, if not for just one thing: the filibuster rule in the Senate.

That rule must go. The people voted for substantial Democratic majorities in the last election. Let the majority have its way. If the people don't like the result (as the Republicans claim the people won't), fine, vote the Dems out. If a Republican majority gets elected, let it have its way. And if the people don't like what comes of that, vote them out, and so on, until we get politicians who understand what the people want. But no one can like a system in which it doesn't matter who gets elected because nothing can ever change anyway.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A super majority is beneficial for the reason James Madison stated in Federalist 10:

"To secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a (majority) faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our inquiries are directed. Let me add that it is the great desideratum by which this form of government can be rescued from the opprobrium under which it has so long labored, and be recommended to the esteem and adoption of mankind.

By what means is this object (protection of a minority against a majority faction) attainable? Evidently by one of two only. Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time must be prevented, or the majority, having such coexistent passion or interest, must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression."

Dated style, perhaps, but the 60 vote rule is precisely the type of remedy Madison envisioned. We have 2/3 House and Senate and 3/4 of states majority Amendment rules in the Constitution itself. Do you favor that we abolished these archaic non-democratic super majority rules as well?