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Author Topic: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)  (Read 2896 times)

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Offline kylieTopic starter

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To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« on: January 16, 2010, 04:52:12 PM »
          Anyone thoughts on the merits of dropping the filibuster from the US Senate rules? 

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-meyerson14-2010jan14,0,5314241.story?track=rss
Quote from: Harold Meyerson
   ... As the most senior members were often Southern segregationists, the power of the chairmen doomed civil rights legislation until the 1960s and impeded other progressive initiatives through the 1970s.  It was only then that a legislative genius named Phil Burton -- the liberal San Francisco congressman who dominated the House during that decade -- persuaded House Democrats to elect their chairmen rather than rely solely on seniority. With that, the most conservative House Democrats began to vote more like their more numerous liberal colleagues.

     Burton died in 1983, but a number of his proteges -- in particular Pelosi, Miller and Waxman -- are leading figures in Congress (and his brother, former congressman John Burton, chairs the California Democratic Party). More important still is the lesson that Burton offers to liberals today: To secure social reform, you sometimes have to blow up the legislative processes that block majority rule. In the '60s and '70s, that meant changing the rules of the House. Today, it means abolishing the filibuster in the Senate.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/14/opinion/14collins.html
Quote from: Gail Collins
     There are 100 members of the Senate. But as Brown is currently reminding us, because of the filibuster rule, it takes only 41 to stop any bill from passing.

U.S. population: 307,006,550.

Population for the 20 least-populated states: 31,434,822.

That means that in the Senate, all it takes to stop legislation is one guy plus 40 senators representing 10.2 percent of the country.

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Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2010, 04:52:55 PM »
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/21/opinion/21krugman.html?scp=4&sq=filibuster&st=cse
Quote from: Paul Krugman
     We need fundamental financial reform. We need to deal with climate change. We need to deal with our long-run budget deficit. What are the chances that we can do all that — or, I’m tempted to say, any of it — if doing anything requires 60 votes in a deeply polarized Senate?  ... [snips]

... The political scientist Barbara Sinclair has done the math. In the 1960s, she finds, “extended-debate-related problems” — threatened or actual filibusters — affected only 8 percent of major legislation. By the 1980s, that had risen to 27 percent. But after Democrats retook control of Congress in 2006 and Republicans found themselves in the minority, it soared to 70 percent.
          Short essay history of the filibuster:  http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/f/filibusters_and_debate_curbs/index.html?scp=1-spot&sq=filibuster&st=cse 

          To start on the other side a bit, too...  http://www.realclearpolitics.com/horseraceblog/2009/12/why_the_filibuster_is_more_ess_1.html
Quote from: Jay Cost
     As the parties drift apart ideologically, the majority party will more likely introduce legislation that the minority party can't accept, giving the latter a stronger incentive to block it via the filibuster. Using the filibuster is thus a rational response when one finds oneself in the smaller half of a polarized chamber, which is more likely to be the case today than 45 years ago.

This points to a highly beneficial purpose the filibuster can serve. Per Klein, it is indeed an obstructionist tool, but it is also a way to promote moderate policies, even as the parties have become more ideologically extreme. In other words, thanks to the filibuster, an ideologically extreme majority party cannot simply enact its policy preferences as it sees fit. Instead, it must either find common ground with some on the other side, or do nothing.
          A problem with this is that one side obviously stands to gain from the current party doing nothing -- namely, the minority party which created many of the problems and is visibly cheering for the present government to fail.  The Republicans have a vested interest in distinctively Democratic policies not even being tested in relatively moderate force: They can always say, "See that was unpopular" or "See, it wasn't crafted properly" after threat of a filibuster has gutted the project to start with.  However, there may be very negative consequences if the administration policies are continually watered down to the extent, say, healthcare has been.  This also has the effect of increasingly distancing executive ideology from legislation -- hardly something we would have associated with say, the Bush administration.  Separation of powers is one thing, but a total disconnect between the branches is quite another.

Offline Jude

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2010, 05:34:39 PM »
I would argue that the Filibuster actually doesn't keep policy moderate in terms of the overall political spectrum, just that it keeps policy somewhere between the two parties.  In other words, if you have a far right party and a moderate left party, the midpoint between the two is not the actual center, but center-right.

Bipartisanship in general is very flawed in Washington, because even if you're aiming to make center-right policy, there's still a reward for being as extreme as possible in your initial offerings in order to give yourself more bargaining room to "give up" during the negotiations process and ultimately come up with center-right policy.  For example, the Democrats have been criticized for starting from the Public Option instead of starting from Single Payer, because they had less to give up along the way while negotiating.

The political lessons I've personally taken from 2006-2010 are disheartening.  Even though Republicans lost the 2006 and 2008 elections, Democrats really haven't managed to get a whole lot of their agenda through, and I fault procedure for a lot of the failings.  A couple of things I noticed...

1)  The way Senators are elected is extremely counterproductive.

You can't have a complete changing of the guard that reflects the mood of the populace because you're only cycling out a third of the U.S. Senate every 2 years.  As elections are becoming increasingly contentious (such in the case of Franken v Coleman), some seats remain in limbo for long periods of time.  That means each incarnation of the Senate only has two years to pass legislation, hold hearings, debates, et cetera.  Add in Holidays, Filibusters, deaths, unexpected vacancies, Amendments offered by the minority party simply for the sake of stalling, and you get a Senate that is a very inefficient body.  Not to mention it costs the taxpayers money to have 3 elections during the course of every Senator's term.  The consequences this has on presidential politics, the quality of legislation, etc. is very dire.

2)  Senators are way too powerful.

Joe Lieberman is a perfect example of this:  one man can hold the Legislative Agenda of both the Senate and the House of Representatives hostage, if he so chooses.  He wasn't even reflecting the will of his constituents.  And all of that power concentrated in one individual makes them way too easy to bribe or otherwise influence.  News stories about C-Street, political corruption, and stealth senatorial proceedings leave me feeling pretty cynical about our government's structure.

3)  The American People have ADD.

The populace expects far too much of the current political system.  Barack Obama has essentially set about doing what he said he would while campaigning, and yet his approval ratings have plummeted below the percentage of people who voted him into power.  He received the majority of the popular vote, but in a recent poll only 39% of people say they would re-elect him if a vote was held tomorrow.

In a lot of ways we, as a people, glorify political candidates during the campaign season and then find ourselves disappointed when our elected officials don't walk on water to save a kitten from terrorists while reducing unemployment, serving as the head of their political party so their power base isn't undermined in the Senate, and dealing with the day to day duties of the President.  We expect far too much far too quickly, then change course when we don't get it.  This results in a rubber-banding effect, that creates a political climate in which government fails to do anything substantial.

Solution?  Don't get rid of the filibuster, get rid of the Senate.  It's a poor analogy, but the bicameral nature of Congress is comparable to using two condoms while having a one night stand.  At the time of the Constitution, it was a brilliant compromise which helped establish our nation and made complete sense.  Today, things have changed.  Technology enables us to deal with a larger governing body, the disparity in population between smaller states and larger states has grown, and the trouble with having a 100 person 'legislative checkpoint' at the helm of the country is becoming very apparent as political corruption becomes so prevalent.

Practically speaking, it's probably nearly impossible to accomplish such a change.  It would require a groundswell of popular support.  The Senators obviously won't want their positions nixed, the media thrives on having Senators serving as Political Celebrities to report on, special interests like having a couple of people to lobby to instead of needing to deal with the vast house of representatives, and this would require a constitutional amendment.  Still, I wonder why people who speak of small government never discuss this.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2010, 05:40:14 PM by Jude »

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2010, 05:44:10 PM »
Thing is.. popular opinion can be just as bad a method to rule as having 2 houses.

England has 2 houses.. most STABLE governments do.

It's a precarious balance and requires more than what the average 'John Q Public' american is willing to give.

That is: active and INFORMED participation.

Offline Kotah

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2010, 05:56:49 PM »
Two words.

International revolution.


Offline consortium11

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2010, 07:11:06 PM »
Thing is.. popular opinion can be just as bad a method to rule as having 2 houses.

England has 2 houses.. most STABLE governments do.

It's a precarious balance and requires more than what the average 'John Q Public' american is willing to give.

That is: active and INFORMED participation.

To be fair, our second house is virtually powerless and only really has the ability to stall legislation. Till recently (in political terms) a huge number of its members had their seats by virtue of being born and even now, with them removed, its often seen as cronyism and a backway to get unelected people into government. While there's rarely enough political will to truly change it (and deep debate on what a change should be) most parties (and the public) have a go at it every so often. The House of Lords shouldn't really be held up as a great example of a second chamber working well.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2010, 07:19:21 PM »
To be fair, our second house is virtually powerless and only really has the ability to stall legislation. Till recently (in political terms) a huge number of its members had their seats by virtue of being born and even now, with them removed, its often seen as cronyism and a backway to get unelected people into government. While there's rarely enough political will to truly change it (and deep debate on what a change should be) most parties (and the public) have a go at it every so often. The House of Lords shouldn't really be held up as a great example of a second chamber working well.

True, but all RELATIVELY stable long lasting governments tend towards a 2 house style of representation. Keeps stupid popular AT THE MOMENT changes from taking hold.

Like. PROHIBITION. Which was easily one of the worse things the US government ever did. Put Organized Crime on the books easily.

Personally, if you want to do something to change things around. Put a term limit of the folks in congress (both houses).. Say 3 terms thne you have to sit out a term.

Offline Zakharra

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2010, 11:19:40 PM »
 
Quote
Solution?  Don't get rid of the filibuster, get rid of the Senate.  It's a poor analogy, but the bicameral nature of Congress is comparable to using two condoms while having a one night stand.  At the time of the Constitution, it was a brilliant compromise which helped establish our nation and made complete sense.  Today, things have changed.  Technology enables us to deal with a larger governing body, the disparity in population between smaller states and larger states has grown, and the trouble with having a 100 person 'legislative checkpoint' at the helm of the country is becoming very apparent as political corruption becomes so prevalent.

Practically speaking, it's probably nearly impossible to accomplish such a change.  It would require a groundswell of popular support.  The Senators obviously won't want their positions nixed, the media thrives on having Senators serving as Political Celebrities to report on, special interests like having a couple of people to lobby to instead of needing to deal with the vast house of representatives, and this would require a constitutional amendment.  Still, I wonder why people who speak of small government never discuss this.


 A constitutional shift of that large a proportion is nearly impossible to do since our government is built around 2 legislative houses in that branch. There is a reason the Senate has 2 Senators per state. To prevent that larger population states from running the Legislative branch.  You'd have to convince the House and Senate, and 3/4 of the States to ratify this.

 

Personally, if you want to do something to change things around. Put a term limit of the folks in congress (both houses).. Say 3 terms thne you have to sit out a term.

  The Senate is every 6 years and the House every two. So to be fair between them, perhaps 2 terms for the Senate and 6 for the House? That way a person can be in each house 12 years. Giving them enough time to do something, but  eventually forces them out so you do not have lifetime Congressmen like you see in the Senate. People who have been there 30-40 years or more.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2010, 11:27:25 PM »
Basically I put out because from the point of view of a STATE sometimes needs a person back in the senate.. not to mention it eliminates the 'lame duck' outlook of a final turm.

I didn't always agree with the late Senator Helms, BUT I do know he did what he thought was best for his state. (He turned down a more prestigous committee posting to state on the Senate Agricultural committee once.. because it was more important to his constituents)

I threw out an 'X number' of terms.. because I read somewhere (wish I coudl find it) that an incumbent has over a 90% chance of getting reelected. Not to limit the time in office, but to keep them working to represent their voters.. not take them for granted.

Offline Zakharra

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2010, 01:07:38 AM »
 True. A term limit would put good people out of the office, but it would limit how long bad people could be in too.

Offline Asuras

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2010, 02:58:18 AM »
The thing about the government is that it's designed to be slow. Bush had an approval rating of 90% after September 11; how many Democrats would have been elected if there had been election eight weeks later for every seat in Congress? What would the Republicans not have been able to do over the next two years (or more, if you reduce the frequency of elections?)

That is the reason to have checks like the filibuster, so the question is whether or not the filibuster is worth it. And I'm not so sure - we have checks like judicial review, which effectively places a higher threshold on certain kinds of legislation (namely, those which question constitutional rights), and others like life appointments on the Supreme Court and the Senate election cycle, which provide continuity between elections. The filibuster has become so widely used that now even legislation that doesn't require a constitutional amendment is almost being held to the same standard, which does seem pretty stifling.

On the other hand...Congress did pass significant health care reform last year, and sometimes I wonder if liberals remember just how recently they were the ones defending the filibuster against Bush and the Republicans. (on something, frankly, a lot less significant than health care reform...)

I think I'd be for reducing the number of votes required for cloture (say from 60 to 55) rather than abolishing the filibuster altogether.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2010, 08:19:59 AM »
True. A term limit would put good people out of the office, but it would limit how long bad people could be in too.

Hence the suggestion of 'a time out term' rather than 'X terms and you're done'.


Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2010, 08:22:16 AM »
The thing about the government is that it's designed to be slow. Bush had an approval rating of 90% after September 11; how many Democrats would have been elected if there had been election eight weeks later for every seat in Congress? What would the Republicans not have been able to do over the next two years (or more, if you reduce the frequency of elections?)

That is the reason to have checks like the filibuster, so the question is whether or not the filibuster is worth it. And I'm not so sure - we have checks like judicial review, which effectively places a higher threshold on certain kinds of legislation (namely, those which question constitutional rights), and others like life appointments on the Supreme Court and the Senate election cycle, which provide continuity between elections. The filibuster has become so widely used that now even legislation that doesn't require a constitutional amendment is almost being held to the same standard, which does seem pretty stifling.

On the other hand...Congress did pass significant health care reform last year, and sometimes I wonder if liberals remember just how recently they were the ones defending the filibuster against Bush and the Republicans. (on something, frankly, a lot less significant than health care reform...)

I think I'd be for reducing the number of votes required for cloture (say from 60 to 55) rather than abolishing the filibuster altogether.

Quite.. and as I recall it (the filibuster limit) used be lower still.

Personally I think a lot of the folks who are against it now.. (the Democrats) would drop the  demand to do it in if they were no longer in control (cough cough Nancy Pelosi cough cough)

(Sorry..she's always struck me as a bit of a two faced opportunist..the Democrats could do a LOT better)

Offline kylieTopic starter

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Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2010, 12:29:43 PM »
Quote
... as I recall it (the filibuster limit) used be lower still.
     I've pulled some sentences up to join preceding paragraphs and indented.  Personally, I just find zero indentation and strings of 2-line blurbs in a quote box, a pain to read.  Haven't changed anything else about the excerpt. 
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/f/filibusters_and_debate_curbs/index.html?scp=1-spot&sq=filibuster&st=cse
Quote
          Sarah A. Binder, a political scientist at George Washington University and co-author of a book on the filibuster, said that both the House and Senate began work in 1789 with a measure called a "previous question motion" that required only a simple majority to cut off debate. The House has kept such a rule to the present day.  But the Senate dropped it in an 1806 housecleaning without fully understanding the implications, she said.

          As early as 1841, a frustrated Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky threatened to try to change the debate rules when opponents tied up his banking bill with interminable talk. But the Senate finally adopted a formal means of ending a filibuster only in 1917, at the urging of President Woodrow Wilson.  Infuriated by the failure of Congress to act on war measures, Mr. Wilson fumed. "A little group of willful men," he declared, "representing no opinion but their own, have rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible."

          With that push, the Senate decided that a two-thirds vote could cut off a filibuster, borrowing the French parliamentary term "clôture" for such a motion. In 1975, the Senate cut the required vote for cloture to three-fifths, or 60 senators, instead of 67.  At about the same time, the Senate created a two-track process that allows senators to block action on a piece of legislation merely by invoking the right to filibuster, without actually having to stand before the chamber and drone endlessly on. Meanwhile, the Senate can take up other business.

          The measure, intended to promote efficiency, inadvertently encouraged filibusters by making them painless, and made them a normal tool of political debate. In 1995, almost 44 percent of all major legislation considered by the Senate was delayed by a filibuster or the threat of one.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2010, 12:35:11 PM by kylie »

Offline kylieTopic starter

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Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2010, 12:31:25 PM »
Quote from: Callie
Personally I think a lot of the folks who are against it now.. (the Democrats) would drop the  demand to do it in if they were no longer in control (cough cough Nancy Pelosi cough cough)
         That seems to be going with the approach that things are so polarized, it won't really matter who is in power?  As far as I understand, the existing historical evidence is more that the Republicans have used it much more than the Democrats did against them.  If one believes it's just the polarization of issues, then it will just keep escalating.  However, if one believes that, then it seems logical that the practical impact of many pieces of legislation may also get smaller and smaller.  Compromising with senators who represent the insurance companies gets you a watered down health policy.  Compromising with them more often gets you, deeper water.

Quote from: Asuras
... we have checks like judicial review, which effectively places a higher threshold on certain kinds of legislation (namely, those which question constitutional rights), and others like life appointments on the Supreme Court...
          I'm a little uneasy about whether the Supreme Court is a really balanced check on the scope of legislation...  Some -- many would say, a scant majority -- were installed by Reagan-Bush, and have rather conservative track records.  Not to mention the federal judiciary ranks, where there has been much of the same.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2010, 12:51:41 PM »
         That seems to be going with the approach that things are so polarized, it won't really matter who is in power?  As far as I understand, the existing historical evidence is more that the Republicans have used it much more than the Democrats did against them.  If one believes it's just the polarization of issues, then it will just keep escalating.  However, if one believes that, then it seems logical that the practical impact of many pieces of legislation may also get smaller and smaller.  Compromising with senators who represent the insurance companies gets you a watered down health policy.  Compromising with them more often gets you, deeper water.
          I'm a little uneasy about whether the Supreme Court is a really balanced check on the scope of legislation...  Some -- many would say, a scant majority -- were installed by Reagan-Bush, and have rather conservative track records.  Not to mention the federal judiciary ranks, where there has been much of the same.

Again I feel that it isn't the fault of the governorship that we are 'suffering' but from the governed (US, John Q Public) that are at fault.

It is not too hard to look up facts, participate and think for yourself. Too long we've let others tell us that we need to be safe or protected from something. (Case in point.. the Patriot Act).

I think Ben Franklin said something along the lines of 'A people who gives up a few liberties for security, merit neither'.

That means to me, you, me, and the guy down the street have to be informed participating citizens. That means VOTE and communicated to your elected officials.

Becuase let me tell you a little secret folks: Saints don't run for office. People who want something out of it do. Anyone who tells you they are in it for the 'people and only the people' are either a. delusional or b. LYING.

Cynical perhaps. Letting these same folks change the structure of a govenerment which has lasted for 200 years (not always well, or fairly, granted...but has lasted) means they have an idea how to get things more the way THEY like it.

You don't like policy. Talk to your officials. Participate in the process. VOTE.

Don't stand around wringing your hands about how 'unfair' things are.

Folks voted into office pay attention to TWO things. Numbers. Money.

Care to bet how many folks participate in the process? Depressingly few.

Offline kylieTopic starter

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Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2010, 01:16:07 PM »
Quote from: Callie Del Noire
It is not too hard to look up facts, participate and think for yourself. Too long we've let others tell us that we need to be safe or protected from something. (Case in point.. the Patriot Act)....

I think Ben Franklin said something along the lines of 'A people who gives up a few liberties for security, merit neither'.

That means to me, you, me, and the guy down the street have to be informed participating citizens. That means VOTE and communicated to your elected officials.
          Oh, I wouldn't dispute that people are too easily sold on "security."  However, unless you're talking to a few people in minority party states, it seems that voting only buys certain figures into the system.  Granted, campaign finance reform or the like might widen the range of candidates.  Perhaps a referendum for a more wholly democratic government -- possibly those term limits or something more radical.  I don't know.  I think these are rather separate topics.   

Quote
Letting these same folks change the structure of a govenerment which has lasted for 200 years (not always well, or fairly, granted...but has lasted) means they have an idea how to get things more the way THEY like it.
         It sounds like you want a thread about something much broader than the filibuster.  Maybe a campaign for everyone to vote against incumbents over 10 years, to clear them all out??

Quote
  Care to bet how many folks participate in the process? Depressingly few.
          The fact remains that the existing process includes not only voting for a couple senators or campaigning...  As stands, it means expecting that numerous senators will be forced to dicker away what you just voted for with any miscellaneous senator -- who you often didn't vote for -- who threatens a filibuster.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2010, 01:18:32 PM by kylie »

Offline Jude

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2010, 01:35:45 PM »
There's several compromises between the abolishing the senate and keeping the bicameral status quo, such as establishing both houses based on population (and thus making senators harder to bribe), changing the senate so that a pool of representatives based on the population of the state in question with equal voting power controls each state's senatorial votes (keeps equal representation for all states but makes it harder to bribe senators), etc.  I think some change is necessary because the status quo is clearly not working.  Changing the filibuster alone will not resolve the fundamental problems with Congress.

I do agree that public is responsible for the failure of government, but I don't think that the public is going to change anytime soon.  We'd need a shift in cultural/societal values in order to change the populace so that they will actually value participating in the political process in a meaningful way.  I have to emphasize meaningful way, because even a lot of people who do vote aren't even being remotely intelligent about it.

If I recall (and I don't have the source of these statistics, so I have to admit this based entirely off of what I heard during congressional speeches and if anyone thinks this is unreasonable feel free to call me out on it), around every 12 minutes an American dies due to not having health insurance (and this is only the death toll that can be directly attributed to that via scientific studies).  That's roughly 5 Americans an hour and 120 a day.  Roughly 3000 people died on 9/11, the biggest terrorist attack in American History.  That means every month, more Americans die from the lack of health insurance than those who died during 9/11.

Yet people were willing to go to war in two middle eastern countries, sacrifice ridiculous amounts of money, as well as the lives of American servicemen to protect us against 9/11.  Americans are simply stupid when it comes to assessing and prioritizing threats.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #18 on: January 17, 2010, 02:20:19 PM »
I have a better go back to having the STATES appoint the Senators, they seem to have lost most say in public affairs after moving this part of Congress over to the vote by the masses. Most of whome seem to be pretty stupid and uninformed on the issues. The Senate should be where the states get their say in public policy at the Federal level.



Offline Asuras

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2010, 02:48:52 PM »
Quote from: kylie
I'm a little uneasy about whether the Supreme Court is a really balanced check on the scope of legislation...  Some -- many would say, a scant majority -- were installed by Reagan-Bush, and have rather conservative track records.

First, two of the six Reagan-Bush appointments developed reputations as moderates (O'Connor and Kennedy), while a third turned out to be a closet liberal (Souter). For instance, all three of them defended abortion rights and voted to end sodomy laws.

The SCOTUS is meant to be institutionally conservative; it's supposed to reflect the jurisprudence of the last 40 years or so rather than the popular fancies of just the last 2, 4, or 6. Until 2009, the Republicans had held the presidency for 28 of the preceding 40 years, and they were well represented on the Court - which, I think, is fine, I don't want every branch of government to fall into the hands of one party or one ideology in one, two, or three elections simply because of one fuck-up.

Quote from: kylie
Not to mention the federal judiciary ranks, where there has been much of the same.

On issues of national significance, the federal judiciary is pretty powerless - it's bound to the opinions of the Supreme Court, and if for some reason their decisions contradict the Supreme Court, you can always appeal there, so it has limited relevance to the system of checks and balances.

Quote from: Jude
There's several compromises between the abolishing the senate and keeping the bicameral status quo, such as establishing both houses based on population (and thus making senators harder to bribe), changing the senate so that a pool of representatives based on the population of the state in question with equal voting power controls each state's senatorial votes (keeps equal representation for all states but makes it harder to bribe senators), etc.  I think some change is necessary because the status quo is clearly not working.  Changing the filibuster alone will not resolve the fundamental problems with Congress.

  • The more people that citizens have to vote for, the less they know about each of them, which means that it's easier for those officials to get away with mischief. When I lived in Texas, for instance, we elected everyone from the governor to each seat on the supreme court to comptroller to...pretty much down to dogcatcher. Result: no one cares about any of the races because no one has the inclination to learn about sixty different candidates for twenty offices.
  • Most "bribery" comes in the form of campaign financing. The more elected officials there are, the cheaper the elections are, which means the cheaper it is to bribe. In theory, it probably costs as much to bribe a state's house delegation as it does to bribe the state's senate delegation.
  • Because it costs less to bribe a house representative, it's harder to catch legally.
And I don't know if you're giving enough credit to the filibuster. If the Democrats only needed 55 votes, Lieberman and other moderates would have been irrelevant, and there would have been a public option in the senate bill. That's a huge difference.

Quote from: RubySlippers
I have a better go back to having the STATES appoint the Senators, they seem to have lost most say in public affairs after moving this part of Congress over to the vote by the masses. Most of whome seem to be pretty stupid and uninformed on the issues. The Senate should be where the states get their say in public policy at the Federal level.

IMHO, state legislators are some of the stupidest and most corrupt people on the planet, and the original purpose of directly electing senators was to make the process less corrupt. And states definitely get their say - ask West Virginia how they feel about Robert Byrd and the zillions he brings to his jurisdiction.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #20 on: January 17, 2010, 03:13:10 PM »
Yes but a corrupt state appointee is OUR corrupt states appointee who would answer to the governor and state to keep his seat. Government by its nature is corrupt that is why its also evil and had to be chained by the US Constitution they just never bound it far enough.

Offline Asuras

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2010, 03:20:35 PM »
Quote from: RubySlippers
Yes but a corrupt state appointee is OUR corrupt states appointee who would answer to the governor and state to keep his seat. Government by its nature is corrupt that is why its also evil and had to be chained by the US Constitution they just never bound it far enough.

How is it not your state's senator if your state voted for him?

It seems less attached to the interests of the state if the governor appoints him - then he's the governor's crony. Look at what happened in Illinois when the governor had an opportunity to appoint a senator to succeed Obama.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #22 on: January 17, 2010, 03:23:01 PM »
I fail to see how in my home state (NC), how a democrat appointee by the STATE democratic machine is any different from the slime that gets elected anyway.

NC is a democratic machine (run by the eastern carolina factions) and has been so FOREVER on the state level. We'd still have a bunch of oppourtunistic jerks in congress. (And I forsee the ones in office being there FOREVER now that the arch conservatives have the republican party reigns.. moderate republicans like myself are looked upon as.. deviants by the party officials..)

Offline kylieTopic starter

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Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #23 on: January 17, 2010, 04:11:53 PM »
Quote from: Asuras
The SCOTUS is meant to be institutionally conservative; it's supposed to reflect the jurisprudence of the last 40 years or so rather than the popular fancies of just the last 2, 4, or 6. Until 2009, the Republicans had held the presidency for 28 of the preceding 40 years, and they were well represented on the Court - which, I think, is fine, I don't want every branch of government to fall into the hands of one party or one ideology in one, two, or three elections simply because of one fuck-up.
          "Institutionally" conservative seems to equate historically into politically conservative, at least for the time period in question there.  A bit hard to follow...  It seems to me the Republicans being "well represented on the court" means that the Court has also fallen more into their hands.  It isn't as if the justices all retire very soon.

          Are you meaning to say, you want the Court politics to resemble election trends over the previous generation?  I suppose you could argue that..  Although technology, some issues, and certainly public usage of ideas can also shift faster than every 20-40 years.  It's kind of a gamble that research in legal history alone would make them capable of identifying when those changes are meaningful, or not.  If they are looking at those factors as important, then I'm not sure they can still be called institutionally conservative in this context.

Quote
On issues of national significance, the federal judiciary is pretty powerless - it's bound to the opinions of the Supreme Court, and if for some reason their decisions contradict the Supreme Court, you can always appeal there, so it has limited relevance to the system of checks and balances.
          The Supreme Court is only a few people and they can only handle so many cases in a given time.  When they decide what not to take up, the rulings in those cases default to what the lower federal courts already decided.  If the federal courts had not been so conservatively packed in recent years, then it would take the Supreme Court a greater juggling act to actively undo liberal rulings on more of the cases they are asked to hear.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2010, 04:14:45 PM by kylie »

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Re: To Filibuster, or nix the Filibuster... (US Senate)
« Reply #24 on: January 17, 2010, 05:03:26 PM »
I fail to see how in my home state (NC), how a democrat appointee by the STATE democratic machine is any different from the slime that gets elected anyway.

NC is a democratic machine (run by the eastern carolina factions) and has been so FOREVER on the state level. We'd still have a bunch of oppourtunistic jerks in congress. (And I forsee the ones in office being there FOREVER now that the arch conservatives have the republican party reigns.. moderate republicans like myself are looked upon as.. deviants by the party officials..)

At the risk of dragging things briefly off topic, do you feel the current republican leadership is moving further to the right, and pandering to the more extreme supporters?