Diary

Is a Minority Veto a Good Idea? Refugee Wisconsin and Indiana Legislators, the US Senate Filibuster Rule

Conservatives are very much opposed to “rule by the mob” and the “tyranny of the majority.”  We conservatives don’t believe that democracy is an unconditionally a positive influence on society since democracy is basically “two wolves and a lamb voting on what is for dinner.”  A 50 percent plus one majority should not be able to take away our basic rights.  

But theory sometimes clashes dramatically with reality, at least in some cases.  Conservatives currently look at the transplanted Wisconsin and Indiana legislators with a combination of dismay and anger.  A Wisconsin Republican or Indiana Republican could justifiably say, “We won the 2010 election.  But we can’t pass our agenda without minimal cooperation from Democrats.  If winning elections isn’t enough for us Republicans to pass our agenda, when will be able to enact our agenda?”

Also, we could look back to the middle portion of the George W. Bush administration.  In the 2003-2004 Senate, the Democrats only had a minority of 49 Senate seats.  Yet, these Democrats were able to use the Senate filibuster rule, which requires 3/5ths of all US Senators “chosen and sworn” to end debate, to defeat 10 conservative nominees for the US federal court of appeals.  In the 2004 elections, not only did President Bush get reelected; the GOP also gained a net of 4 US Senate seats, obtaining a 55 to 45 seat majority.  Yet still, there was concern among Republicans that the Democrat Senators would continue their filibustering ways against conservative judicial nominees, since the Democrats still had more than the 41 Senators needed to block any judicial nominee from receiving a confirmation floor vote.  To accurately recount the GOP position on the filibuster, however, most Republicans wanted to retain the filibuster rule for legislative items while eliminating the judicial filibuster option. 

When the Republicans lost control over the US Senate and the US House in the 2006 elections, and especially after Obama was elected president in 2008, Republicans looked at the filibuster as the one tool they could use to prevent the United States from becoming Argentina.  The filibuster rule didn’t prevent the enactment of the stimulus plan and the confirmation of Sotomayor and Kagan.  Nor did the filibuster rule prevent the enactment of Obamacare.  This is partially due to the party switch of Senator Arlen Specter, which gave the Democrats 60 Senate seats. 

Yet as we watch Democrat legislators crossing state lines in order to stop the Republican agenda, it is time we examined the whole issue of the minority veto and supermajority requirements.  Is it a good idea to require “bi-partisanship” by requiring supermajorities in order to conduct legislative business?  Or would our country be better off if both the Republican and Democrat parties were able to enact their agenda without the consent of the other political party?  Should the GOP be required to receive the consent of the Barbara Boxers of the world in order to enact the conservative agenda?  Should the Democrats be required to receive the consent of the Jim DeMints of the world in order to enact the socialist agenda? 

This is an important issue because if the GOP wins big in 2012, we can expect the Democrats do use every minority veto tool they can lay their hands on to block the conservative agenda.