A Simple Majority Is No Longer Sufficient In The U.S. Senate

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by KenH, Jul 13, 2004.

  1. KenH

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    Regardless of who is elected president on November 2, he will have a difficult time passing any controversial item through the Senate - such as raising taxes or appointing federal judges that are not perceived as being moderate.

    During the last four years we have seen that it requires 60 votes to bring up anything that the Democrats consider controversial, since they are forcing cloture to be invoked to bring these items to a vote, which requires 60 senators voting affirmative to do so. And we can expect that the Senate will remain pretty much evenly divided, certainly neither major party will come close to having 60 senators.

    If President Bush is re-elected, this will almost certainly stop him from appointing any judge that is ardently pro-life to the U.S. Supreme Court. On the other hand, I can't imagine the Republicans not repaying the Democrats in kind for the past four years if Senator Kerry is elected, thus blocking his ability to reverse the tax cuts and blocking any ardently liberal judges from the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Republicans in the U.S. Senate failed to do this, it should assuredly cause a rebellion by the grassroots of the party.

    So the hope by anyone on the right or the left that any president in the next four years will be able to make any sweeping changes to the right or to the left on the U.S. Supreme Court or on any major policy issue should be nil due to this new super majority requirement.

    The only real way for a president in the next four years to exercise any substantive power in legislation will be through the use of the veto since he will only need 34 senators to back him, or 146 representatives.
     
  2. The Galatian

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    Or, just possibly, someone might appear who could call on both parties to set aside their differences and work for America.

    The major parties could return to the old collegiality of Dirkson and Rayburn, and remember that under the label, they are all Americans.

    The right leader could open up a new era of cooperation and decency.

    Nahhhh.....

    Not so long as it's a demopublican.

    System won't let that happen.
     
  3. church mouse guy

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    Don't know who set up the 60 vote system to end debate. Suspect the Democrats. Anyway Frist could change the rules if he still has a majority at the start of the next Congress. If used to be if a Senator wanted to fillibuster, he had to actually stand up and talk. The Senate operates under Jefferson's Manual, a system of special rules dating to Thomas Jefferson.

    It should only take a majority to close debate and call for the question. When did this country ever say that the majority could not rule?

    Thought of a tree for the CP. The Tree of Heaven!
     
  4. The Galatian

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    When the Constitution was ratified.

    We are not, and never have been a nation of majorities. We are a nation of laws. This is a democratic republic, not a democracy.
     
  5. Daisy

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    I think moderation is a good thing. Aren't conservatives generally in favor of hobbling our government?
     
  6. KenH

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  7. church mouse guy

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    Thanks, Ken. If it was reduced from 2/3rds to 60 votes in 1975, that would have been the work of the Democrats since they controlled Congress by huge majorities after Watergate. Imagine, the previous rule from Jefferson was an almost impossible 2/3rds!

    If the Republicans control the Senate in the next Congress, Frist has said that he can change the rules to a simple majority to call for the question. The Senate is really backward in that they are now directly elected but continue under rules from the days when they were appointed and perhaps represented the states more closely. The idea that one or two men can tie up debate for hours while reading the New York City telephone book aloud shows how stupid our government can be in the age of terror.

    I am not sure, Ken, but somewhere along the line I think that they started considering it a filibuster if they could not get 60 votes even though there was no one talking for fifteen hours or so about nothing.

    Thanks for the link! I used to have a copy of Jefferson's Manual when I was in high school in the 1950s but I had forgotten that it used to take 2/3rds. I was unaware that filibuster was from the Dutch word for pirate, but you can see that that is what the liberal minority is doing.
     
  8. The Galatian

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    The point of the Senate was precisely to thwart the "dictatorship of the majority". By making it very hard for anything but a strong majority to push a bill through, the founders hoped to prevent whichever faction had control at the time, from running over the rights of others.

    Now that the country is so evenly divided, this is more important than ever.
     
  9. church mouse guy

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    That's the liberal point of view. The liberals want to tie everything up so that nothing can be done in the age of terror unless Teddy Kennedy approves. The liberals want to thwart the will of the people. A republic means that the majority rules within the confines of the law.

    The Democrats repented that they had stopped civil rights laws with the filibuster and so they rolled the rule of cloture back from Jefferson's 2/3rds to 3/5ths. Somewhere else along the line, they dropped the notion that there had to be a filibuster actually take place. In other words, they have used 3/5 to call for the question instead of just ending debate. This is an abuse of the laws of parliamentary procedure. This must be corrected in one of two ways. The best way is that a majority could call for the question as has been done in the House for centuries. The alternative way is that there has to be a debate on the floor for the Senate to actually close or the question occurs under the rules of parliamentary law.
     
  10. The Galatian

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    The point of the Senate was precisely to thwart the "dictatorship of the majority". By making it very hard for anything but a strong majority to push a bill through, the founders hoped to prevent whichever faction had control at the time, from running over the rights of others.

    Now that the country is so evenly divided, this is more important than ever.

    Well, you know how Washington was. Hamilton used to refer to him as "Liberal George." (WFTH-I)

    Would you hazard a guess where "terror" comes in as a major cause of death and injury?

    Hint: Even in the year of 9/11, it didn't get into the top five. And normally, it is miniscule.

    Yep. The law. That's why the law is hard to change. As Washington observed, it tends to delay foolish passions, and serves the purpose of liberty. We don't live in a pure democracy, for which you should thank God daily.

    Sensible rules. It makes it harder to obstruct things, but it still avoids the tyranny of the majority.

    If you want to further liberalize the rules on cloture, you should inform your Congressman. Don't hold your breath.
     
  11. church mouse guy

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    Why would I inform my Congressman? It is a problem in the Senate. Do you read your own stuff?

    Do you know anything about parliamentary law? Frist says that he has the right to amend the rules at the start of the new Congress if he has a majority still.

    The Senate is now elected directly. It is not the same idea that the Founding Fathers had for a Senate which was to be appointed by the States. Jefferson's ideas therefore predate the civil war and need to be changed to reflect the fact that the Senate is just another house only smaller. As Ken linked above, the Democrats used the filibuster to block civil rights legislation so we can see that it earns its Dutch name of pirate.
     
  12. Terry_Herrington

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    Could you show a dictionary where this is the definition of the word "republic?"

    According to Noah Webster, a "republic" is defined as:

    "A commonwealth; a state in which the exercise of the sovereign power is lodged in representatives elected by the people."

    I don't find any mention of a republic simply being majority rule within the scope of the law. This is more like a "democracy" which is rule by majority, period.

    I think there is a great difference. I have heard a "republic" described as a government where the majority rules without the ability to trample on the rights of the minority. While this is not a legal definition, I do think that it sums things up pretty well.
     
  13. Johnv

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    Last time I checked, Senators were congressmen. You're referring to Representatives, methinks. Both Representatives (members of the House of Reps) and Senators (members of the Senate) are called "Congressmen", or "Congresspersons".

    Me thinks thou art guilty of an innocent faux paix. [​IMG]

    [ July 16, 2004, 02:35 PM: Message edited by: Johnv ]
     
  14. The Galatian

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    America is technically, a democratic Constitutional republic. Everyone votes for representatives who make law. However, the highest authority is the Constitution.

    But even the Constitution can be amended, if people work at it long enough.

    But it's not easy. By intent. The idea is that over time, stupid ideas become obviously so, and never get ratified.
     
  15. Johnv

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    My, Galatian, I agree with your last post. Should I sit down? [​IMG]
     
  16. The Galatian

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    Sometimes, the best thing to do is to go back to the basics that make us Americans. Then we pretty much all agree.
     
  17. TomVols

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    Correct.

    I do believe that this is a proceedural snafu that short-circuits the constitution. It is a monster created by the Senate that now bites the hand that created it.
     
  18. The Galatian

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    Fillibusters are very old and were actually easier to do in the early years of the Republic.

    It's not the system. It's the people who are working it. People like Newt Gingrich put an end to the concept of "loyal opposition", and substituted a "win at all costs" ethos. The idea that loyal Americans could disagree somehow was lost, and the demonization of politics began.

    One of the things hoped for was that Bush might be successful in bringing some civility back. He was very good at that in Austin.

    But he fell into the wrong hands, and instead became the most divisive president the last 100 years.

    And the demonization continues. I don't care who started it.

    I just want it to stop.
     
  19. church mouse guy

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    The filibuster has been the weapon of the Democrats historically. They are the ones who have made cloture impossible. What is crazy about the rules now is that it is assumed that there is a filibuster when cloture fails. The Senate should arrange their schedule so that Senators actually have to stand up and talk for it to be considered a filibuster.

    If the Republicans retain control of the Senate, look for the rules to be changed at the start of the Congress. If the Democrats win control of the Senate in November, look for gridlock and the filibuster to continue.

    It is not in the interest of liberals to let the voice of the people be heard. The so-called polarization of the country is really just the failure of liberals to get their way and their anger at their loss of power.
     
  20. The Galatian

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    Actually, filibusters are what kept civil rights laws from passing.

    It was the weapon of the minority, which the Republicans were for a very long time. It never occured to the Democrats to try to change the rules to choke off that last source of influence for them.

    Or if it did, they were too American to actually do it.

    The neocons have no such restaints.
     

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