Friday, January 25, 2013

In the Senate, egotism trumps democracy

By Michael J.W. Stickings

By now you've surely heard about how Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell struck a deal on the filibuster that basically means little to no change to the abuse of the filibuster in the Senate.

With a solid majority, Democrats could have changed the rules so as to ensure simply majority rule and therefore to put an end to the non-constitutional super-majority requirement upon which obstructionist, party-of-no Republicans have been insisting, thereby reducing this supposedly noble body to a state of paralysis, something even the cautious, checks-and-balances Madison would abhor, but in the end they let their grotesquely egotistical sense of entitlement and self-worth get the better of them, as usual, and caved, also as usual.

"I'm not personally, at this stage, ready to get rid of the 60-vote threshold," said the pathetic Reid, who flipped and flopped away from his encouraging pronouncement last year that the filibuster was being "abused."

So much for encouragement. We who thought Reid and the Dems might actually do something to put some democracy back in the Senate, taking absolute power away from lone senators who could stop whatever they wanted, were the ones who had our trust abused. 

But maybe we never should have trusted them to begin with -- and, indeed, I never really trusted them, I just hoped I'd be proven wrong. As Jon Chait writes:

The Senate is a club, and its impenetrable rules and customs are bound up with the boundless ego-stroking its members are lavished with, and lavish each other with. The essential Senatorial belief is that to be a United States Senator is to establish a bond of prestige with one's fellow Senators that is stronger than party, ideology, or any rational sense of good governance...

Basically, what happened here is that the good government instinct met the senatorial ego, and the latter prevailed because it is the most powerful force on Earth.

More powerful even than the democratic rule established by the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.

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