A question of philosophy
Posted by Greg on February 17, 2009
Ezra Klein has a good piece talking about the filibuster and the ongoing discussions about eliminating it.
We have a party-based electoral system that, particularly in the Senate, pushes towards a relatively even division of power. The question then becomes whether we’re more comfortable with the consequences of a system where the minority can block good policy or the majority can pass bad policy. I’d prefer the latter: The policies of politicians we voted for have more democratic legitimacy than the system’s structural preference for inaction. Elections should be about the bills passed by the majority rather than the obstructions erected by the minority.
Yeah, they should, yet the Senate isn’t “just” a smaller clone of the House. Elana Schor points out some times where the filibuster has been useful to the democrats as well.
Klein is right, party platforms out to be about what you do rather than what you obstruct, but is it a fair comparison when current attitudes have made filibustering so painless? If the 60 vote requirement meant you had to actually stand and speak for hours on end, perhaps it would be used less casually?