Saturday, February 6, 2010


"That government is best which governs least." -
-- Thomas Paine

OK, fine, Thomas. But...this is ridiculous, isn't it ?!

If you have the impression that we are paralyzed by political gamesmanship, well.....we are!

Many have weighed in on this already: since when does majority vote equal 3/5 of a legislative body? The Senate rules about filibusters and clotures are compromising government's ability to address our most serious health care and financial reform challenges.

The financial/political complex, a system made worse by a recent Supreme Court decision, perpetuates Congressional gridlock. Big Pharma, Big Auto, Big Finance----these industries spread the wealth among both Democratic and Republican lawmakers---which makes progress glacial, at best, and simply impossible much of the time these days.

The legacy of the Founders' will for checks against the tyranny of the majority is a quasi-guarantee against the rush to push popular passions into law. A bicameral legislature, a sovereign executive branch, a co-equal judiciary---these structural components were designed to slow things down and protect the rights of the minority, and, in fact, republican democracy has been correctly assailed over the centuries as being the least efficient form of government imaginable. Yet, aside from impeachment, removal from office, treaties, and constitutional amendments, super-majorities are not enshrined in the Constitution. The Senate awarded itself the right to endless debate. And the bizarre outcome is that a senator from a state representing less than a million people can put a hold on progress for the other 299 million of us. That's a blatant distortion of republican ideals.

The issues we face are complex, and democracies are not well suited to complexity. Am no advocate of benign dictatorships, but, given the 1 in a million chance of the Senate revising its rules at any point on our lifetime, is there a solution?

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