Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ending the Hypocrisy

Sigh. So when George W. Bush was president, it was un-American and undemocratic to filibuster judicial nominees. But now it is apparently ok for Republicans to entertain doing so against Obama's nominees or proposed bills.

I feel about the filibuster largely what I feel about the Electoral College. Both are in desperate need of reform, but no matter when you do it the motives will seem to stem from sheer politics. In the wake of 2000 reforming the Electoral College would have seemed like nothing more than a Democratic Party reaction to the 2000 election, rather than seeing the failures of the 2000 election as impetus for reform. Changing filibuster rules would almost certainly be even more problematic, though if a party got up to 65 or so votes in the Senate they could just pound it through, but then they would have enough votes to override filibusters, and would want to reserve that right for the future.

There is so much self-interest involved that hypocrisy almost inevitably follows. But there is almost nothing democratic and not much more that is republican (small d, small r) about allowing a minority to thwart the will of the elected majority out of sheer political obstructionism. I'd happily support needing a a super-majority on some issues, and on others, such as civil rights, the will of the majority certainly is secondary to Constitutional and other rights. But on their face the Electoral College and filibuster serve to protect the few from anything other than republican democracy. Let's try to get rid of these remnants of the 19th century. There are no slaveowners whose rights we have to be cowed into protecting lest they blow the whole project apart.

No comments: