40 votes to kill a bill? So much for Democracy

Timothy Egan in the NYTimes says it’s time for the Obama administration to “cowboy up,” whatever the heck that means.

Get tough, I suppose. Quit letting a majority of 41 votes in the Senate boss around a minority of 59. What is this rot?

There are a couple of interesting notes about this. If you look at Egans piece (here!) you may follow along.

For one, I agree, this nonsense of letting 41 votes hold a veto over the majority is past its usefulness. It’s not a law, it’s not in the Constitution, it’s just a procedural rule the Senate made and what the Senate made, the Senate can change. Time to change it. I’ve seen good arguement that it’s even unconstitutional, since the Constitution does set aside those special things that need a super-majority — impeachements, for one — and voting on regular bills isn’t one of them.

What? You say these aren’t votes? They’re debate rules? Even worse. Letting one senator hold a veto over the entire nation is beyond obscene. Senators didn’t used to do this, they used to have some respect for the will of the people. In this new environment, where winning for your side and to hell with the country is what it’s all about, that rule is making things worse.

When the Dems used it against him, Sen. Orrin Hatch would scream for an “up or down vote” on judicial nominations.  If he was right then, he’s got to be right now. Needless to say, Sen. Hatch had his irony bone removed years ago, along with his hypocricy gland and his citizenship gene.

Will this happen? No. As I said, this isn’t about the good of the country, it’s about senators using power to be, well, senators.

These guys think of themselves as the new royalty. It doesn’t matter who’s in power. The Democrats don’t have the spine to give up power, any more than the GOPs do. And do it for the good of the country?

Never happen because what we have is a political system grown so narcissistic on donations (read: bribes) and power that those guys really, honestly do think that their perks and power are necessary for the continuation of the nation. Either that or they don’t give a rat’s patoot about us.

I find, some days, I really think the latter is the case. This makes me sad. America was such a nice concept.

Second, why did the people in Massachusetts vote for a Republican? In Egan’s fine column he quotes a few who call themselves democrats who say that they’re unhappy because here we are a whole entire year later and the economy still hasn’t rebounded!

In previous columns I called Americans a bunch of weenie whiners. Those people sure are. It took us eight years of profligate borrowing and spending to get into this mess and Americans are so spoiled, so weenie, that they get really miffed if things aren’t fixed in 12 months?

These must be the same people who thought nuclear war was survivable because, heck, how long can it take to rebuild New York City? A couple of years, max? No sweat. 

Are Americans really that stupid? That spoiled? That ignorant of the magnitude of the unholey mess created by the Bush Administration’s policy of  “borrow borrow borrow and spend spend spend and everyone get into debt?”

Apparently they are. Disgusting.

I would warn any and all who gloat now about gloating too long or too loud. If the Dems do find their spines (they’re around here somewhere) they may become as intransigent as the GOPs, and then you’ll end up with a Senate, and a Congress, that is completely powerless. In a situation like that the appeal of someone to “Make the Trains Run On Time,” as it were, becomes very powerful indeed.

Il Duce did just that in Italy, and I’m sure he talked about God and Country and Freedom for Italians while he did so.

I’m not predicting who the American dictator will be, but it will be someone, unless we the people take our elected representatives out behind the woodshed and beat some sense into them.

A deadlocked Congress has no power at all, and we’re heading that way.

Every tea bagger who demonizes a liberal, every left winger who demonizes the folks on the right, every citizen who fails to condemn his or her Senator for allowing this obscene 40-vote “majority” to run the country, no matter what the issue is at stake, pounds another nail into the coffin burying the rotton corpse that used to be represenatative democracy.

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10 Responses to 40 votes to kill a bill? So much for Democracy

  1. Doug Gibson says:

    Excellent blog Charlie, but I wish you wouldn’t use the term tea baggers. It’s a vulgar slang used to mock those who participated in the tea parties.

    The filibuster was considered by Democrats as a great check on Republican judicial nominees a few years back. Now that they are the majority party, it’s biting them in the rear end.

    I wouldn’t sob if the filibuster went away. Politics is cyclical. What’s more interesting to me is how a party with 60 senators and a sizable majority in the U.S. House failed to pass comprehensive heath care reform. They had several months to do it. If Republicans had 60 senators …

  2. Jim Hutchins says:

    The filibuster “worked” for almost 100 years in the Senate as long as it required someone to actually speak for that entire time.

    With the relatively recent rule change in the Senate, one doesn’t even have to be present to stop a cloture vote. That’s wrong.

    That one simple change, back to the Jimmy Stewart, Mr-Smith-Goes-to-Washington version of filibuster, would make all the difference in the world. If the minority party wants to stop consideration of a bill, then let ‘em stand up like men and women and freakin’ DO SOMETHING.

    Rewarding laziness and ineptitude is a bad, bad mistake.

  3. Joe Puente says:

    Great article. Doug, the Republicans didn’t need 60 votes to pass their agenda under Bush. The Democrats suffer from analysis paralysis and simply don’t have the blind allegiance the party of “rugged individualism” has come to idealize in the last 10 years.

  4. ctrentelman says:

    i think jim has a good chunk of it — the rule says all someone has to do is intend to talk and the democrats are so damn polite they go along with it.

    Doug, you may have a point you didn’t intend: Would the republicans allow the Democrats to stop a bill of theirs this way? Or would they be screaming bloody murder?

    Personally, my biggest disappointment in the Dems is that they don’t scream bloody murder. As I said in the blog post, they don’t want to do away with something that gives them all power, and this gang of idiots loves power more than sex.

  5. John Watson says:

    Personally I like the rule. It forces the majority to work for a bi-partisan solution in most situations. The recent Democratic supermajority has been an anomaly that is a bad thing as demonstrated by all the back room dealing. Beyond that it slows down either side from forcing some massive piece of legislation down everyone’s throats. By design the legislative process is ponderous and difficult and that is a very good thing. It is an elegant solution to keep the majority from trampling the rights of the minority.

    Yes, it goes both ways. That is a good thing.

  6. Al says:

    Doug, I can’t help but note that when Bush was in office and the Dems in minority, the merest hint of a filibuster was attacked by the Republicans as being a profoundly un-democratic tyranny of the minority, a charge that was repeatedly aired in the media. The climate, needless to say, seems different now.

  7. Mark Shenefelt says:

    The past week I have been battling my health insurance carrier to pay two claims for my kids. To any real person, it is obvious the claims should be paid, and that’s what the glorious health plan I have says — or so it seems.

    But with their bureaucracy and fine print and voice mail trees and appeals systems, they’re good at wearing people down. I’m like a dog with a bone so I’m not going to go away for them, but this week, every time I am on the phone again with these people, all I can think about is Washington’s failure to fix this horrible system.

    Chortle all you want about your political gotchya moments, teabaggers and right-wingers. But I trust you will have just as much fun as me next time Big Insurance screws you.

  8. sandyshoes says:

    The new Massachusetts legislator is a mix of Republican and Democrat. You need to look up his politics. After all, that’s how Romney made it as governor. But he wouldn’t make it twice. I haven’t looked to see how many votes the Independent running took away. I vote Independent and Democratic…and locally, if you give me a good candidate, I’ll even vote for a Republican. Too many of our Congressmen have been in too long and we continue to give them power and money they don’t deserve.
    Mark, I just had some lab work done at Davis Hospital…The second time this year, but I couldn’t control this one as I was in the hospital overnight. $243.00 not covered by my federal government insurance for charges higher than acceptable for the locality. And yes, my rates increased this year quite a bit. I wonder if Senator Hatch were to have the same tests what would be paid by his insurance company. Oh, that’s right. They employ him and his son.

  9. Alan Meyer says:

    As I commented on Facebook, what we have in Washington now is a “reality series” we ought to call “The DC Shore”. We don’t have a democracy. What we have is Give-them-bread-and-circuses-ocracy II.

  10. Neal Humphrey says:

    Odd, since when is our national government a “democracy”? The United States of America is a federal republic governed by a representative system. I learned at First Avenue Junior High School in civics class that we are deliberately and absolutely not a democracy. Why? To slow down and even prevent the national government from taking action. It’s working. ‘Has been for a coupla centuries.

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