The US Senate has often been described as “the world’s best delibrative body”, and considers itself a model for others. Given this, it is ironic to me that the democrats in their rush to pass some form of “Universal Health Care” are so brazenly crossing the rubicon that has protected them so much.
The key to the Senate’s operation lies in two main factors – it is not a democratic body, and it is intentionally constructed so that the minority has a significant ability to obstruct, interfere, and generally slow down “progress”. Although seen as a problem by current Democrats, both of these factors help to ensure that the Senate is not a mere “tyrrany of the majority”, but rather that passage in the Senate presages a greater overall support for legislation by the people themselves.
The Democrats seem ready to throw that all away with their heavy-handed attempts to protect Obamacare. Pushing everything through in the middle of the night right before Christmas? Standard fare for politicians who even thieves would be ashamed to call compatriots. The real concern is the attempt to change the rules to make changing portions of Obamacare against Senate rules without following proper procedure. While this may seem an arcane bit of Senate parlimentary procedure, the key that this boils down to is simple – we won, therefore the rules are what we say they are.
Why is this such a danger to the senate? Because if the precedent is set that the rules are merely one more political football, then we’re going to see significant and likely detrimental changes to the political process. Consider that upon the start of a new session a majority is sufficient to set the rules, especially when the “Presiding Officer” that gets to make the call is elected by the majority party. If a “just cause” is sufficient to rewrite the rules, why not eliminate the filibuster to take out Obamacare? Why bother playing by the rules when the other side has shown that their respect for the rules only lasts as long as the rules are of benefit to them?
In the end, this would devolve the Senate into another House of Representatives, where the majority basically runs the show. Is this really in the best interest of Democrats? Are they so sure of their majorities and their pet programs that they’re willing to risk this end? Are they really going to be happier driving us full-speed towards banana-republic status?